July 10, 2007

Holy Crap!

There's a hole in my wall!

We're having an unnecessary (and broken) wall heater ripped out of our front room to make way for my walnut sideboard. YAY! And that gas valve at the bottom will come out too so the floor will be flush.

Yes, that is the neighbor's fence you can see through the hole.

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July 18, 2007

House Update

I owe you all a house update, as some of you have been asking pretty often. Not much has been happening, really because we're both working over the summer and it gets too damn hot to do anything in the afternoons.

Ok, not much isn't really true. We've had the handyman rip out the heater, and now the wall is fixed (we'll get it painted after everything else is done so we can do all the touch ups at once):

Lots more below the jump (and more pictures!)

Read More "House Update" »
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July 25, 2007

Revenge of Son of Book Chapter....

Turns out that I need to make some serious edits to the book chapter that I sent out a month ago. I needed to resize figures and fix some of the formatting of the text before it could be accepted, so I am taking today to work on the chapter and get some house work done. And of course the programs that I need for the figures are on Hubby's laptop, and not mine. So I needed to commandeer it yesterday for more than two hours. To get the pictures sized appropriately at the right resolution, I have a bizarre workaround that involves a statistics program of all things, and that program is on DH's computer.

Did I mention that's also the laptop with the screen that works sporadically and is hooked to an external monitor and is effectively a desktop. A desktop set up for a lefty? And I'm trying to do graphics on it???

Yeah. Migraine city. But I think I have the figures mostly done, as well as the text formatting, and I am going to do some more editing while I have the chance.

And since I need to work on the figures at home, rather than in the office, I'm at home today, watching Fox News (as usual) and doing laundry. With all of the work we've been doing ON the house, the work IN the house has been getting neglected, especially the laundry. I've been putting off the heavy house work until everything is put away (I mean really, what is the use of mopping around boxes???), and we have slowly been making progress on the house in fits and starts. Last weekend we finished the sitting room side of the front room (except for the pictures and most of the geegaws) and it's quite a comfy little reading space with an oversized chair and lots of books grouped around the fireplace. Pictures later, I promise, as soon as I'm done putting stuff out. We still need to finish the kitchen/ utility room and get all of the last few things in cabinets and on countertops and clean up some of the moving detritus.

Also, I've discovered a recently blossoming local blog scene, and when I get around to it, I'll be putting up a Pasadena Bloggers blogroll, especially as many of them have been kind enough to put me on their rolls. It's been interesting to get to know these blogs. On a national sense, our politics are often diametrically opposed, but when it comes to home, we're all interested in the same things. Look for that soon.

More later. Back to work.

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August 06, 2007

I owe you people an update

I spent the weekend on home improvement. Pictures soon.

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Bullets Over Pasadena

Or, I have a lot to say and not much time....

-- So we did a LOT of home improvement type stuff this weekend. Here's a partial list: New bathroom sink, new bathroom light fixture, new TP holder attached to sink cabinet, old TP holder and towel bar removed, wall heater removed, installed two new light fixtures, repaired the old ceiling fan in our den (it still squeaks, but we're no longer afraid it will detach itself from the ceiling and careen around the room) replaced the dimmer switch in dining room, and prepped our ceiling for the ceiling fan we bought. Today, hubby did the exterior paint touch up work left from the termite repair work and cleaned out and re-seated the rain gutters. Next up: shelves in the linen closet, two ceiling fans, a chandelier in the dining room, and paint touch-ups. I'll get some pictures up soon. Now that 90% of the crap is put away, it's easier to do these silly little things that take so long and make you so frustrated....

-- Thursday night we went to the Dodgers/Giants game. The Dodgers' staff are super nice and helpful when you have obnoxious idiots in your section. Everyone in our section thinks they asked us to leave for asking them to remove people, but guess what? This "fat fucking bitch" (yes, that's what she called me) got better seats in another section for the rest of the game thanks to you being an asshole. Oh, and Barry still sucks.

--We're WAAAAY behind on TV. I've got about 12 hours of catch up from this week's TV (we just got through The Closer from Monday, and we watch that religiously! Usually we see it on Monday or Tuesday at the latest)... Mom and Dad were here Wednesday to Sunday (we took them to the game, and Dad helped with the various bathroom projects), and that also cut into TV time.

--We've been having a visitor of another sort as well. Guest blogger/ frequent commenter/ buddy ZTZCheese and her hubby are on vacation, and their bearded dragon has been living on our patio, eating his worms and soaking up the sunshine. Pictures soon if I get the ok from his humans.

-- I missed a bunch of people's birthdays this last week. Sorry guys. I was a little out of it. Much love to all of you. You know who you are.

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August 20, 2007

Something Smells....

Last night around 1 am we were awakened to what sounded like someone rummaging through our kitchen cabinets.  We both jumped out of bed, and went to the kitchen, but there was no one there.  There were however strange noises emanating from the side of the house.  Hubby went upstairs to make sure there was no one in the attic, and I went over to the front window to look out.

A few moments later the thumping outside stopped, and we heard some high-pitched shrieking, sort of a mix between a cat in heat and a screech owl.  As I looked out the window, I began to discern a very characteristic shape.....  body slightly larger than a cat, with a tall, bushy tail pointing skyward.

Yep. Pepe Le Pew.  In my sideyard.

He/She/It ran across the lawn directly to our neighbor's driveway, and then zig-zagged it's way up the street and around the corner where we lost sight of it.  It disappeared before I could go get the camera.  Too bad.

There's no sign it was UNDER the house, as the crawlspace cover doesn't appear to have been disturbed, and the only signs of digging are under the fence, but it sprayed somewhere in the vicinity of the front corner of the house, and the REEK was unbelievable, even at 10 am.

We had some fox urine crystals left from the battle with the squirrels, and upon finding them to be useful for skunks, too, hubby has been shaking them all over that side of the house and at the crawlspace entrance.  We're also planning to go get a big spotlight to plug in and put under the house tonight, as the experts say that is the best humane way to scare them off, being very nocturnal creatures.

Possums are a pretty common occurrence in Pasadena, they live all over town, and you can tell by the stench after midnight most nights of the year.  The skunks are a recent phenomena in our neighborhood, as far as I can tell, as the aroma of the backyard changed only recently.  I'm really hoping that means there aren't baby skunks under my house.

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October 23, 2007

Playing around with the camera tonight

And I got a few nice shots. Posted to flickr.

Smells as good as it looks

Can you tell how much I love having my camera back?

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May 24, 2008

365 Days and 30 minutes ago....

We walked into our house for the first time as its owners. It was kind of a surreal moment, to say the least. It was a Thursday afternoon, and we had no idea when the title would be recorded, so we gave the previous owners until 5pm to leave.

Of course, they took advantage of that, and the fact that it was memorial day weekend to to have the power and water shut off on us, pettily hoping that that they could screw us over and force us to be uncomfortable until the next Tuesday.

Happily, however, Pasadena Water and Power are AWESOME and everything was back on by Noon, Friday.

It's been a crazy year. Somehow we've managed to rip out two wall heaters, install a ceiling fan, a chandelier, change two more light fixtures, fix another ceiling fan, install a brand new bathroom sink, run a water line to the refrigerator, cap off a number of useless pipes, completely replace the plumbing for the shower and the kitchen sink, and install a dishwasher. Oh, and hang lights on the pergola, rip out three trees, hack away a number of bushes, and plant two rose bushes, azaleas, calla lilies, carnations, lilacs, hydrangea, and two summers' worth of garden.

Not to mention replacing a broken window and installing an alarm system. And bringing home a new puppy.

Wow. That's a hell of a lot more than I realized.

This weekend's project? Why plastering the holes from the plumbing job and repainting the bathroom, of course. And hanging our Anniversary present to ourselves:

Cardinals singing in a magnolia tree above a creek. And it will look fabulous above our bed, so who cares if it's a mass-produced IKEA painting? It makes me happy.

More pictures on Flickr as soon as I have a moment to download from the camera, probably late tomorrow!

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July 21, 2008

Forest for the trees (and some TV notes)

It was a busy weekend at the Casa de CTG. For the first weekend in about a month it was cool enough to work outside, and we were actually IN TOWN to get things done.

Despite the fact that GMT is home for the summer, the yard has been getting away from us shamefully. It has just been too hot to work in the yard for long periods, so the list of things to be done has far outpaced the the things we can GET done. Add to that a tree that decided to DIE in the middle of the yard, and well, it was starting to look like there were a few dead cars arriving to be parked on the lawn in a week or so.

Finally this weekend we were able to tackle some big projects. First up was the dead tree. Our lovely plum tree just turned brown and withered. We'd known it was sick, with some disease that didn't affect the other fruit trees in the yard, or the neighbors yard. But then it just up and died. So we took it down before it fell and killed someone.

Hubby clipped off all of the small limbs and branches with pruning shears and then we borrowed a friend's chainsaw and chopped it down a piece at time into a rather cheerful looking pile of firewood.

When Hubby got to the stump, the reason for the tree's downfall became immediately clear: Termites had infested the base of the tree and killed it from the inside out. Of course, we sprayed the stump with bug spray and threw the termite pieces in the trash. They live in the soil in Pasadena, I know, but the fewer the better is my motto when it comes to Termites.

When the plum tree was done, we moved the operation to the front yard, and using our awesome pole trimmer and tree saw, we took out all of the lower branches on the nasty tree that shades our driveway (and drops leaves and makes the car sticky from its secretions), mostly because the branches were likely the cause of our cable having loose connections, and because the branches were beginning to brush the roof. Yeah, not good. I've noticed these trees all over Pasadena, and it seems to me that most people who park under then DO NOT experience sticky, leafy car like we do, and I realized, most of the other trees are higher above the cars, so hopefully the trim will help with that, too.

Then, later last night we went over to some other friends' house and picked up their mini-whisper-chipper. This should allow us to get rid of most of the tree waste by making it into some lovely mulch. YAY!

I am totally exhausted.

Also from this weekend, it seems we stopped watching House entirely about the time we went into escrow on the house. Regular lurkers will know that was well over a season ago, strike or no strike. So this weekend we picked up where we left off, and have watched 9 episodes or so, which brings us up to just about the last pre-strike episode. It's nice to have all that TiVo space back, too. Just 12 to go. I expect we'll get through them in the next couple of days. Then we have a whole season of Ugly Betty to get through. As well as a whole slate of summer shows.

Speaking of summer shows, we were both very impressed with A&E's The Cleaner, starring Benjamin Bratt. Despite a few cheesy moments (including a Pulp Fiction-esque heroin rescue and a very amateurly foreshadowed suicide), it was gripping and we're looking forward to the second episode on Tuesday.

Also, our all-time favorite, Psych, is back on USA. This season started off with what I consider to be just a "meh" episode, despite the much ballyhooed arrival of Shawn's Mom: Cybill Shepherd. She was actually excellent, and seemed to fit right into the cast. The plot was MORE than a tad contrived, with Shawn resorting to fraud and blackmail to keep Gus's "dayjob" from forcing him out of the agency. Not his best work, and certainly not the best script of the show. Surprisingly adorable: Henry getting all mushy about his ex and Lassiter crying on the therapy couch after boasting to Jules that he was kicking a$$. Looking forward to a much better season once the writers get over their long winter break.

And a final thought on TV: All-time Foodie fave Ted Allen returns to weekly TV with a new show on Food Network starting next Tuesday (7/29). It's called "Food Detectives" and looks to be the gay love child of Alton Brown's Good Eats and MythBusters. Even if the concept wasn't so cool, I'd be all over this show. How can you not love the man who once advocated that bacon should be its own food group, and later described it as the "best two words in food: Ba. Con."?

Posted by caltechgirl at 11:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 29, 2008

We're ok

Officially re-revised to 5.4. Some loose plumbing under the sink, but nothing fell or shook loose. Pictures didn't even move askew on the walls.

Dogs were completely non-plussed. One was laying in the grass chewing a toy, the other was chilling under the coffee table.

At least now we know what the house does in an earthquake.

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January 08, 2009

Whole LottaNot Much Shaking Going On

According to the USGS we had a 5.0 4.5 earthquake at 7:49 PM just south of San Bernadino.  That's about 50 miles east of here.

Not surprisingly we barely felt it.

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January 11, 2009

You're probably wondering...

What's all this twitter talk about Ted Kennedy being under my house?

Well, unfortunately, I don't have him locked in the slab a la Jimmy Hoffa, but he is in fact gone.  And really, that's preferable.

Because this is Ted Kennedy:

* Actor Portrayal, not an actual Kennedy

Dear Teddums is a skunk.  A skunk who decided that the underside of the stairs to our den was a perfect place to curl up on those cold winter afternoons.

Seems he knocked out a flimsy (likely VERY OLD) grill that was covering the entrance to the crawlspace under the main part of our house and found himself a cozy, warm spot to sleep in sometime Wednesday morning.

We left him to his own devices until we could do something about keeping him out, yesterday.  We flooded the crawlspace with light and turned on KROQ at top volume.

Teddy left the bar around closing time last night, as he had departed when DH got out of bed at 3:30 to check.

There's now a MUCH sturdier panel covering the crawlspace, which is actually secured to the wall itself, rather than just fit in place.

So why Ted Kennedy?  Well, yesterday I lamented that I wished the damn skunk would just LEAVE ALREADY, and Mike replied, "yeah, that's how I feel about Ted Kennedy too." And the name stuck.

Fare thee well, Ted.  Just stay the hell away from my house!

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January 21, 2009

Comfort and Canning

While most of the rest of you either watched or avoided the evening festivities surrounding the adulation of The One, I was busy in the kitchen.

Ooey-Gooey Mac N Cheese with bacon for dinner.  I needed comfort.  That's the very definition of comfort food.  Plus, I had to use up the last of the fancy cheeses from our New Year's Eve party, which were remarkably still mold-free.  I didn't want to press my luck further.  This was real white sauce Mac N Cheese, too.  A first for me.

After dinner it was back to the stove.  I'm like a kid after Christmas with my new toy.  Some of you may recall I got a small-batch canning cookbook for Christmas and I have been waiting for the stars to align to use it ( and by stars I mean time, inclination, and pectin). 

Last night I broke open the book for the first time and made a batch of Blood Orange Red Wine Marmalade.  Sadly, because our blood oranges are tiny, it made only a cup and a half.  Tonight I broke rule #1 and made a double batch.  Which made just over 4 cups.  YAY!

Then I decided to try and use up some of the apricots in the freezer that we got from our tree in the spring.  Batch #2 was a Winter Pear Apricot Jam.  That was tasty cleanup!  That recipe made 5 cups after skimming.  Not bad.

I was ably assisted by my awesome husband who is quickly learning the difference between tongs and jar lifters, and who has always been a dab ahnd at cutting, measuring, and heavy, hot lifting of pots and plates.

Net: 5.5 jars (+ a bowl in the fridge of leftover) Blood Orange Marmalade (two days), 5 jars Pear/ Apricot Jam, and half a casserole dish of leftover MacCheese.


Pictures as soon as I get a chance to download.

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January 29, 2009

Pictures and stuff

Lots of new pics on the Flickr page.  Including Flea performing with the Caltech Jazz bands (and our own Kjerstin, too!) and lots of glorious jam/marmalade food pRon.

Like this:

Winter Pear Apricot Jam

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February 14, 2009

Valentines Zen

Valentine's Day together #1: bought each other the SAME valentine stuffed animal.  Entirely without consultation.  Giggles and kisses ensued.

Valentine's Day together #15: walk into Costco, notice motion-detector fixture on good sale, toss it into cart. Look at roses and strawberries on display across from motion detectors and go, "Oh yeah, Valentine's Day."

Somehow, #15 was a hell of a lot better.

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May 20, 2009

My own private Idaho Strawberry Festival

About half of last year's strawberry plants survived the little brown digging machine otherwise known as the Dachshund puppy, and we are reaping the benefits.

Bowl full of summer

More on Flickr! Including pictures of the Strawberry and Strawberry Kiwi jam.

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March 29, 2010

Unwanted Caller PSA

Do you ever get calls from telemarketers and scammers who circumvent caller ID or who won't stop calling?

I get really damn tired of these people calling, every night at the same time (I'm looking at YOU Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) when they have been expressly told that I don't have a donation, or I don't need their business, prize, or mortgage help.  So when someone called for my husband this morning and hung up after telling me "It doesn't matter, I'll just call back," I got pissed off.  First they call with no caller ID except the number (a reasonably local number), then they won't tell me who they are.  Screw you buddy.  So I went looking and I found a few things.

First, I was right.  It was a cold-call telemarketer for a questionable home remodeling company based out of Compton. Second, I will be ignoring that number in future.  Third, there are great websites out there that have cataloged a number of these spammers and scammers and telemarketers.  Not just reverse lookup, there are many sites that register complaints and take data about the unwanted callers as well.

Here are a couple of resources to help you figure out who is calling you and who to complain about:
http://800notes.com/  These folks had the most information about the number that called me, with people leaving blog-style comments about their experiences.

http://www.mycallbot.com/ This site is an aggregator for several sites, it was the site where I found the other resources.  It also shows statistics about repeat calling and when the bastards call.

Shows reports of the true name of the business as well as the caller id display and official NANPA information about the location and assignment of the number

Of course if you are on the DO NOT CALL list, you can complain about spam callers here.  Also, remember that the registry expires after 5 years. To re-register or verify your registry, go here.  You can also register cell phones!

Posted by caltechgirl at 09:32 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 07, 2010

At the Crossroads

As some of you know I am at a decision point in my life.

My current job has gone to hell in a handbasket in more ways than I can count and all I can do right now is try to keep my own head above water and not get fired.  The administration is making what seem to be arbitrary decisions and striking out at vulnerable faculty and programs in the name of doing business better,  but the evidence (and I'll admit I am a bit biased) seems to point out the fact these decisions have been at best short-sighted, and at worst, disastrous.  Day by day it becomes clear that I can not count on having a job much longer, through no fault of my own.

So I have been looking around.

I July I applied for a local job, similar to what I am doing now, teaching the same kinds of classes, working with small groups of students, and being able to have a place where I can keep a small lab and give undergrads a chance to have some lab experience.  As a bonus, it would be a short "reverse" commute.  I didn't hear back right away, and I figured they didn't want me.  We'll call this Job #1.  They did eventually call me for a phone interview 'round about October 1, but I haven't heard from them since.

In August, I applied for another job, this one at a major research university in a VERY SMALL TOWN in another state.  Job #2 is a unique position, non-tenure track, but only because it focuses on teaching and student advising, rather than research.  I think it would be a great opportunity to use the skills and experiences that I have developed over the past 15 years to give students useful help as they navigate their college experience.  So I applied, despite the great potential for upheaval in my life.

Job #2 called me a week after the position solicitation closed and invited me to come for an interview.  Which I evidently nailed, because I am sitting in a hotel room in that same small town today.  Two weeks after my initial interview, they offered me the position, and after some back and forth, they invited BOTH of us up here for a weekend look-see.  We've been here since Friday afternoon, bumming around.  We've visited the campus, toured all of the neighborhoods, found the Co-Op in the next town over and even drove an hour out to the Costco.  Which we totally found by accident, although we were looking for it.

When I was here initially, they asked a realtor to drive me around town, and so I asked her to show us inside a few houses, so we could a real sense of what a house we would WANT to live in would cost, and how we would have to work it.  Because see, if we move here, we would have to rent out our house.  There's no way we could sell it, the market in LA being what it is, and so we needed to know what the numbers would be, and if we could afford to buy a house here, since rent and mortgage payments here are about the same.  Might as well get the benefit of the equity.  Not to mention that I'm not uprooting my life to live in a shack somewhere else when I have a house I love.

So we talked.  And gave her our list of needs, wants, and likes.  And of course, dammit, the first house we walked into we fell in love with.  It's quirky and has a huge yard and more storage space than we can fill right now, and of course, it would be long gone by the time we would be ready to move, should I decide to take the job.

And I stepped out on to the deck, and I saw my dogs running on the lawn, and a swingset and plenty of room for a garden, and all of the things  I would want in my life.  And I felt like I could be happy here.  Snow, small town and all.

It's a million years away from my life. But then again, there are so many things I want to change about my life.  I want to have time to focus on ME.  On getting me healthy again.  On my marriage, which is good, but won't stay that way if I just let it go.  On my puppies.  They need Mommy back.  I want to be able to go walking and work out and be able to cook dinner everynight without being bone-weary from a day from hell followed by a commute from hell.  I want to open my computer at night and not have to worry about discovering yet another pissing contest that I have to mop up.

And let's face it, I ain't getting any younger.... tick tick tick....

My biggest concerns are my husband and my family.  Who knows whether he can even FIND a job here?  There are fewer opportunities, even though most districts look for a science teacher more often than other disciplines.  And our families will be nearly impossible to reach, now.  Disappointing after reaching a detente with my inlaws and beginning to build a relationship with my nieces and nephew now that they're older. And of course my Mom and Dad aren't getting any younger, though they are both in reasonably good health now.

So many things are really positive: There's a heated, indoor therapy pool (!!!!) and an Arby's and a Wendy's and a DQ (none of which I have now).  Super Walmart just opened, and it is nicer than our current Target (at least this week) and you can even find a parking place.

Side item: the house we love faces the Walmart directly, though it is a few blocks away, and because both are on hills, you can see the Walmart from the kitchen window and vice versa.  Amusing as hell.

Traffic is a joke, though some people clearly don't know how to drive, and I shudder to think what most of these people would do with an LA freeway.

I am conflicted and I don't know what to do.  It's hard. Can I give up what has become comfortable and close to home for something entirely different, though not altogether bad? 

Alright y'all, weigh in.  I want to hear your thoughts....

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