Monday, July 28, 2008

Smart Kitties

My son Akili sent me a video of a cat flushing the toilet. No, not a tidy cat, an obsessive compulsive cat. The story behind the video claims that a couple had a huge water bill and couldn’t figure out what was leaking until one day one of them stayed home from work and discovered that little pussycat had an obsession with flushing the toilet and batting at the water vortex as it went down. The cat was flushing the toilet over and over again all day long for entertainment. If you want to see this in action, here’s the address of the video download: water-leak.wmv

My Ella doesn’t get off on flushing the toilet, but she’s a very smart kitty. In our old house, she figured out how to put her claw around the edge of the screen door and let herself in and out of the kitchen. She taught her sister how to do it too. In the new house we have a sliding screen door. She figured out how to bump it with her head until it moves just enough for her to get her claw around it and open it. Her sister hasn’t worked that out yet. So she has to wait for Ella to open the door and let her in.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hell's Bells

OK, another moving story. For as long as I could remember, Ron had a long metal pole with a heap of metal bells on it in his closet. I never asked. I picked my battles. Every once in a while I’d move the stupid thing to get to something else. But I was good. I never suggested he get rid of it. I wasn’t even sure how it worked, anyway. I figured he had a sentimental attachment to it. He never played the bells. On moving day, during his final moments in his bedroom, as he was throwing things on the truck half-packed, Ron waved this heap of bells in my direction and with great annoyance demanded, “Can we throw this thing out? How long are you going to keep it? And what the hell is it, anyway?” I stopped dead in my tracks. “That’s not mine,” I told him, “I have no idea where it came from or what it is. I thought it was yours. It’s in your closet.” Apparently he thought I had put it in his closet. Must have been hell’s bells.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lemonade and Cookies

So we invited the neighbors over for lemonade and cookies on Sunday afternoon. There are about a dozen houses on the circle where our new house is located. I left an invitation in every box. I made Crystal Light sugar-free lemonade. Ron thought that was a really bad idea. I pointed out that most of our neighbors are retired (probably on a diet) and would appreciate sugar-free lemonade. “Yeah,” he said, “but you’re serving it with cookies loaded with butter and sugar.” Oh well. Ron says I should have invited the neighbors for “Fresca and cookies” so they’d have some idea of what they were getting into. I imagine them down the road telling others “Ron and Amy are lovely people, but if they ever invite you over for lemonade, just say ‘no’.” As it turned out, the entire event was surprising. Our neighbors have not met each other! People who have lived on this little circle for over 20 years were introducing themselves to one another. Afterward, Ron and I could not get over this. What happens in the suburbs? People don’t communicate? They all thanked us profusely for bringing everyone together. Now I feel like I moved to the Twilight Zone.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mid Life Crisis

Some friends of ours separated recently after many years of marriage. It’s frightening when that happens. It reminds me that all is mutable and reality is a rug that can be pulled out from under me at any moment. The loss of their companionship as a couple and the loss of our future together, growing old as couples, weighs heavy. Even though no one died, it feels as if someone died. When I told Sudi about their separation, he asked why they separated. That’s complicated and many-faceted. Part of it is that the husband (in my opinion) is having a mid-life crisis and is interested in becoming involved with a younger woman. My son Sudi advised, “Mom, if Dad ever has a mid-life crisis, let him buy the motorcycle.”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reducing My Plastic Footprint

My newest environment preservation focus is my effort to reduce my plastic footprint. There is a floating island of plastic debris twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean, about a thousand miles West of San Francisco. Soon there will be another continent on earth made entirely of plastic, a petroleum product, which has many serious health implications both known and unknown. It is impossible to remove plastic completely from my life. Unfortunately, plastic is used to line cartons and cans. It’s everywhere. But I can definitely reduce the amount of disposable plastic I use. Enemy number one is plastic bags. I am experimenting with biodegradable plastic bags, which are sturdier than you would imagine. Made of cornstarch and other plant materials, they disintegrate like compost. I have brought my own cloth shopping bags to the grocery store for over 30 years. Now I’m transitioning to using cloth produce bags as well. My goal is to eliminate all plastic bags from my household. I recycle all my plastic containers, although some of these types of plastic are probably not recyclable. I will have to learn one from the other. It’s a process. I hope you are also trying to reduce your plastic footprint and I’m wondering what clever things others are doing in this regard. Email me or post to the blog your ideas!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Moving Stories #6

I am pathologically organized. I had insomnia for six weeks before we moved because at night I was moving into the new house in my head. By the time we arrived on moving day, I had figured out where to put everything. I was unpacked in less than nine days. My friend Judy says I should call the Guinness Book of World Records. Ron asked me, “Do you know how fast you were moving? You were a blur.” I do not function well in chaos. I expect this begs the question of why I married Ron, who is hard-wired for messiness. I guess I need variety. I was so organized that I labeled every room at the Villa with a post-it bearing the “name” of the room. (Guest Room, Master Bedroom, Family Room, Studio, etc.) Then I labeled all the boxes with the name of the room where they belonged. Enter Akili. To help Ron pack. With his Akili sense of humor, he threw us a few curve balls. That’s how we wound up with a box labeled “Office Food” (the movers had a stop-dead-duh moment over that one) that wound up under a stack of CD boxes in Ron’s studio. It took us nearly three weeks to realize that Ron’s special-order syringes for one of his medications (not insulin fortunately) were in that box. Oh well. He fell a few weeks behind with that med. He still has a few boxes in his Studio, but he’s almost ready to tackle his boxes in the garage.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Price Per Gallon

I sometimes wish I could run my car on water now that the price of gas is so high. But it turns out that water might be more expensive than gas! I read the following list in an e-zine and it caught my attention. It provides a calculation of the price per gallon for a variety of substances. I must say that I have not done any research into confirmation of these listed prices. Have a look.

Diet Snapple 16 oz @ $1.29 = $10.32 per gallon
Lipton Ice Tea 16 oz @ $1.19 = $9.52 per gallon
Gatorade 20 oz @ $1.59 = $10.17 per gallon
Ocean Spray 16 oz @ $1.25 = $10.00 per gallon
Brake Fluid 12 oz @ $3.15 = $33.60 per gallon
Vick's Nyquil 6 oz @ $8.35 = $178.13 per gallon
Pepto Bismol 4 oz @ $3.85 = $123.20 per gallon
Whiteout 7 oz @ $1.39 = $25.42 per gallon
Scope 1.5 oz @ $0.99 = $84.48 per gallon
Evian water 9 oz @ $1.49 = $21.19 per gallon (and consumers don't even know the source of this water)
The cost of printers’ ink (as in book printing) is $5,200 a gallon

Aren’t you glad your car doesn't run on Evian, Scope, Pepto Bismol, Nyquil or (worst of all) printer’s ink?!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Moving Stories #5

On the day of our move, Ron spent the morning disassembling our pedestal bed and the evening reassembling it. He had help from our darling sons, but a significant challenge to the reassembly process was the fact that we couldn’t find all the internal bed boards. They looked like shelving so I combed the house and garage for shelving and sure enough found the boards (rather late in the evening I might add) leaning against a stack of loose shelves. We were highly motivated to put the bed back together as we were exhausted and wanted to go to sleep. When Ron was ready to screw in the headboard, he needed many hands to hold everything in place. The boys and I held up different sections. I found myself balancing a heavy bed piece, trying to hold it steady, while squished in a corner between a dresser, a book shelf, and a stack of boxes. Suddenly, my mischievous cat, Ella, turned up seeking affection. She gives little “love bites” when she wants to be petted. She started nipping my ankles! To make matters worse, I thought this was so funny that I could not stop laughing. I’m lucky I didn’t drop the whole bed on my foot. Or someone else’s foot. Ron was not amused. He doesn’t like that cat, but that’s another story. On that night, my cat-impaired husband was my hero as he and his trusty Makita drill finally managed to assemble the bed so I could go to sleep.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Moving Stories #4

This was not the best point in my life for me to move to a new house since my short-term memory is disintegrating. I tried to put things in obvious places and to keep things together that used to be together. The flashlights and candles in the same cupboard. Batteries in the utility drawer. Measuring cups with the glasses. Husband in my bedroom with the bed (oops, did I say that out loud?). Even so, it’s been challenging to remember where I put things. The biggest mystery of the move is that I lost the keys to the Ranch. I kid you not. It’s not like we ever used them. We never locked that house. It defied locking. Even if the doors were locked, it was easy to pull a screen and climb in a window. We only had keys to the kitchen door anyway. I remember putting our Ranch kitchen door keys on a string, labeling them, and dropping them into a box. Idiocy, right? I should have put them in a more accessible and obvious place. I thought they were in a box labeled “Ron’s Kitchen Box,” that included Ron’s meds. It was one of those pack-last-open-first boxes. Even though we misplaced that box until midnight on moving day, we eventually found it and there were no keys in it. I finally paid to have the kitchen door at the Ranch re-keyed. I take this as symbolic. We found our key to the land at McNab and now the new owners will find their own key.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Moving Stories #3

The movers who worked for us on moving day did a great job. They saved me about a thousand dollars because they moved us in one day, eliminating the need to return the next day to finish. They worked fast, they worked hard, and they were strong. We had four guys with two trucks and about fifteen teeth altogether between the four of them. The guy in charge liked to tell me “good girl” whenever I did something of which he approved (like labeling the rooms in the new house with big post-its and matching the labels on the boxes to the rooms). He must have dogs or something. He’s lucky I didn’t deck him. At least he didn’t tell me to roll over or beg. The first time Ron heard the guy say “good girl” he went into duck and cover mode. But I didn’t say anything. It’s a good idea to stay in the good graces of your movers. They were careful with everything, wrapped all the furniture in pads, but they did not seem capable of reading the word “fragile,” and sometimes their logic defied reason. We found Ron’s meds, labeled for the kitchen, in the garage, finally, at about midnight on our first night in the house. Two boxes of CDs labeled for Ron’s studio turned up in the wine cellar and I’m still trying to figure out what the washing machine was doing in the library for the first few hours.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Moving Stories #2

It was actually to Ron’s benefit that he misplaced his underwear because had he put any in the washing machine during our first couple of days at the Villa, they probably would have shrunk. Here’s why. I would not be parted from my Fisher Paykel washing machine so I brought it with me. The other appliances were all hooked up when we got here. Ron had to connect the washer. Not too complicated. Plug it in, connect the water lines. Somehow he swapped the hot and cold lines. It took me a few loads of laundry to realize that hot was cold and cold was hot. Ron swapped them back. So far this house has not supported the concept of laundry. This week the dryer stopped working. Sudi and Ron betook (is that a word?) themselves to the laundry room (hooray, we have one now) and bumbled around for a couple of minutes. Then I heard the dryer start. “Yay,” I called from the kitchen, “I married a genius.” Sudi called back, “Not. I figured that one out, not Dad.” Sudi discovered the knob was cracked. He took it off and turned the stem underneath with a hammer claw. New knob on order. I have to say that I am just not used to living here yet. I feel like I'm renting someone else's beach house and I keep wondering what all my stuff is doing here. Luckily I have not yet stumbled into the laundry room while looking for the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Moving Stories #1

We have been in the Villa two weeks and I think it’s about time for me to get back in the saddle. So begins the moving stories series. Let me tell you about the day of the move, on which my organizationally impaired husband finally packed his bedroom. Thank goodness for the assistance of our sons. The night before the move, Akili spent hours going through shopping bags of cassette tapes, sorting, putting tapes in cases, and weeding out tapes that were completely shot. Meanwhile, Sudi removed CD shelving and boxed up videotapes in Ron’s office. On the day of the move, both sons helped Ron throw things in boxes, ripping items off the shelves in his closet and emptying the drawers in his dresser. Foot bath, photo equipment, art work, skis, hot air balloon, canoe, digital fishing pole. Ron found two boxes at the back of that closet that he had brought from Berkeley 17 years ago and had never opened (taped shut). He threw them on the truck. If you haven’t used it in 17 years, do you need it? He was emptying dresser drawers into boxes when the movers demanded the dresser. At the Villa, his old dresser came off the truck and went into the garage because I gave Ron my dresser and took the spare one from the back closet for myself. The morning after the move, Yael asked her dad if he could find his underwear. She was joking. He was not when he replied that he couldn’t. And the washing machine was not hooked up yet. It took him 48 hours to remember that he had not finished clearing out the dresser before it went on the truck. In the garage he found his underwear in the abandoned dresser.