January 27, 2005

 now, where did i put my shorts??


we're picking up the rental car tonight and driving to florida first thing in the morning.

it'll feel funny to leave my winter coat at home.

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January 26, 2005

 just a guy in a suit

i closed on my mortgage refinance this morning... a pretty un-newsworthy event except for the fact that i really love my lawyer, charles reinhardt.

i signed and initialed a bajillion forms and i commented that some seemed totally unnecessary. there's a form saying, for instance, that if either i or the mortgage company forgets to cross a "t" or dot an "i" on those same forms that i won't, like, sue and hold it against them.

i almost laughed when i got to that one. my lawyer says, "it's probably because someone acted like a butt one time, so they had to develop a form to prevent it from happening again."

i loved that... "acted like a butt." this is a lawyer that speaks my language.

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 south of the border

things that are making me a bit nervous about our upcoming week-long trip to florida:

1) we're staying out late the night before we leave town. we're driving to florida first thing friday morning, but we're going to a show at the cradle the night before. i predict we'll have gotten very little sleep when we hit the road. i don't like driving when i'm even the least bit tired. (how i manage my daily commute is a question for the ages.)

2) will the tivo fill up while we're gone? i've never left tivo alone before.

3) i need a haircut. i feel certain that my hair will drive me mad while i'm on vacation. i should make an appointment to get a cut the minute i get back.

4) gatorland

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January 24, 2005

 celebrity smackdown: streep v. byrne


i have to admit, i'm more than mildly intrigued by the comparison of meryl streep's and david byrne's manhattan apartments.

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 bacon potato gratin

* slice 2 or 3 russet potatoes verrry thin (like, 1/8"-1/16" thick)
* grate about a cup & a half of sharp cheddar cheese
* crumble 7 or 8 slices of cooked bacon
* mince 2 garlic cloves and about 1/4 cup yellow onion
* one cup chicken stock
* salt and pepper

* spray-oil a baking dish or casserole dish. (i used a pyrex baking dish that was about 7"x10".)
* layer the potatoes, cheese, bacon, and the garlic and onion mixture until the dish is full. finish with the cheese.
* pour the chicken stock over the top, and add some salt and pepper.
* cook at 350 degrees for about 60-75 minutes, covering the dish with foil for about half the time it's in the oven.

the thing that was so great about this was that the flavors were so well balanced. this wasn't too cheesy or too bacony. (though is that even possible?) the chicken stock added just enough liquid for the potatoes to cook without getting too soggy. the onions and garlic offset the sharpness of the cheese. it was perfect. we had it for dinner, as our main course, but it could have easily been a side dish, too.

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January 23, 2005

 no more dishpan hands!



well, that only took about 4 hours, but i did it. no leaks, either!

i only had to make one trip to the home depot. (sometimes i end up going back 2 or 3 times in a day to exchange incorrect parts for correct parts.) the machine came with a drain tube and firm instructions to use it instead of any existing tube. so while i was removing my existing tube i noticed that everything was even more cobbled together than i'd thought. there were adapters which reduced 1/2" pipes down to 3/8" pipes, and then more adapters adjusting the size back up to 1/2". it was crazy.

i quickly found the parts i needed, plus spray foam for the mouse-gap in the floor. when i got back home things started to really come together. though assembly was a little tricky i wouldn't say it was prohibitively difficult. the hardest part was getting all 3 hookups (water supply, drain tube and power line) to reach their connecting spots on the dishwasher. length was an issue. i had to do some pretty tricky maneuvering to get everything to reach.

the only disappointment is that the previous dishwasher was a smidge bigger than this one... there is a noticeable gap around the perimeter that i'm not sure how to handle. i'll have to give that some thought.

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January 22, 2005

 dishwasher deinstallation


so, now that mimo seems to be out of danger we can move on to something more mundane: our dishwasher.

the new one is being delivered tomorrow afternoon, so i spent the evening uninstalling the old piece of crap.

oh, and speaking of crap... we now know where our mice were coming from. more on that in a minute.

before i began this process, i knew that there would be three things to disconnect: the water supply line, the drain hose and the power line. after analyzing the mess of pipes and hoses under my sink i began undoing things. (determining what to unscrew and disconnect was much harder than it sounds... i have valves that don't do anything and junction boxes that don't make any sense. i actually called my electrician friend at one point to get advice about the confusing power supply.)

the hardest part was disconnecting the water supply line... it was copper tubing of a fixed length. (i assumed it would have been flexible rubber tubing.) it was hard to get at, and difficult to maneuver.

finally, after much cursing, tugging and sweating i got the dishwasher out. our reward was the discovery of a phenomenal amount of mouse poop. it looked like a million mice had a ticker tape parade with their asses. disgusting. we have seen a mouse or two five in the house over the last year or so, and we've always wondered where they came from. now we know. there's an inch gap where the wood floor stops and the wall begins. in that inch-wide space you can see the slats that stand between the hardwood floor and the floor joists, and there is a 1/2" gap or so between the slats. so the mice come up from the crawl space, between the gap in the slats, and then through the 1" gap behind the dishwasher.

we clearly need to stop those little fuckers from getting in. i was thinking i'd take care of that tonight, but i hear the streets are a mess (ice) so my plan has been thwarted for the time being. in the morning, though, i'll go to home depot to get squirty foam stuff for the gap. then we'll wait for the delivery of the new machine.

hopefully installation will be easier than deinstallation. now that i am more familiar with the tubes and wires i think it will go pretty smoothly. ((fingers crossed))

Posted by xta at 8:57 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

 the shitting string

just before we went to lisa's kick-ass birthday party last night, mimo pooped!!

he pooped!! and there was string in it!!

there's nothing like walking into a party, telling everyone your cat pooped, and hearing people cheer.

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January 21, 2005

 final mimo update. (hopefully.)

first, i need to mention that our regular vet, donna manley, called us at home last night to check in on mimo. she spent about 20 minutes on the phone with us, answering our questions and easing our anxiety. she is truly a remarkable woman, and i will take our cats to her until the day i die. she is an angel.

flash forward to this morning. no vomit and no poop from mimo. so we drove him to the vet school at 7:00am. the roads were clear and the skies were dark. in the car ray let mimo out his carrier and held him in his arms.

the student doing the intake told us mimo was scheduled within the very first series of radiograph appointments for the day, at 9:30am. dr. mazzei called with his assessment at 11am.

he said the x-rays showed no evidence of the pneumothorax. either the first series of x-rays that diagnosed the problem were in error, or mimo had already reabsorbed the pocket of air. dr. mazzei is no longer concerned that this is an urgent health issue. whew.

mimo also had a full cardiac workup this morning, including an echocardiogram, which showed that his murmur is due to a mild thickening of the heart muscle. sometimes this can be due to medical factors like thyroid problems, but in mimo's case --because he's so young-- dr. mazzei believes this is simply a congenital heart defect. he suggests we leave it untreated for now, but to watch him closely... perhaps getting an echocardiogram every year ($$!!) and definitely getting him examined by our vet every 4-6 months. additionally, dr. mazzei would like to teach ray & i how to take mimo's blood pressure & pulse ourselves... there's just no way they can get an accurate reading at the vet school. he is either too anxious or too sedated.

finally, the string. it's funny that this now feels like the least critical issue. dr. mazzei palpated mimo's abdomen this morning and felt that a big ol' turd had formed in his colon. he believes that if mimo swallowed the fucking string then he's going to simply shit it out in another day or two. there is definitely shit impending. so dr. mazzei believes that doing an endoscopy at this point would be a waste of our money... "as much as i love scoping cats and pulling things out of their stomachs --it's fun!!-- i think i would just be spending your money unnecessarily."

so because mimo isn't vomiting and he shows no sign of obstruction (the food he's eaten these last couple of days is on its way out) it looks like we're just going to wait for him to poop the fucking string out.

still, even though we're about $1,500 poorer with no string to show for it, i think this turned out to be a beneficial experience. at least we know more about mimo's heart murmur and we're reasonably confident he isn't going to die by string.

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January 20, 2005

 just when we thought it couldn't get any worse

ray and i decided to call the vet school and postpone mimo's endoscopy for one day. he hasn't vomited --which is good, and possibly indicates the absence of a string-- but then again he hasn't pooped either, indicating the possibility of obstruction. he's still alert, eating and acting pretty normal, though to my possibly overly-critical eye he seems more tired and a little less playful than usual.

dr. mazzei had news for us when we called, though. apparently the radiologist had finalized the official review of mimo's x-rays, and though he didn't find anything new regarding the string he did find pneumothorax: a pocket of air in his chest cavity. once it was pointed out to him, dr. mazzei saw it definitively. he simply hadn't been looking for something like that before.

pneumothorax apparently has 3 causes. 1) lung worms (!?), a thought that makes my skin crawl. 2) chronic asthma, something we aren't attuned to in mimo, but i suppose could be there. 3) something less urgent and less specific. (sorry, this converstion happened before i had really waken up.) dr. mazzei definitely wants to have this checked out, so by bringing mimo back for further investigation of the string we'll actually accomplish two things.

now, regarding the string... dr. mazzei believes that if it exists, the string is definitely beyond his stomach by now. (this makes sense, especially given that mimo hasn't pooped in 4 days.) if this is the case, then there is no need for endoscopy tomorrow; the camera can't see past his stomach. so mimo will simply start with more x-rays. if the string is in his intestine, then his x-rays should look radically different than they did a couple of days ago. (his intestines should look distended and bloated if the string is that far along.)

what sucks (as if all of this didn't suck enough already) is that if there is indication of the string in his gut, we need to be ready for the possibility that mimo is going to have to have surgery tomorrow. we'll drop him off at 7:30 am (the time of day they reserve for all incoming surgery patients) knowing for sure that he'll get x-rays, but everything else will be up in the air.

what i'm unclear on right now (i'm still wiping the sleep from my eyes) is what further diagnostics will be ordered for the pneumothroax tomorrow. also buzzing around my head like a pesky fly is the knowledge of mimo's heart murmur. it would be good if they could also do a heart workup on him tomorrow, too --maybe even before surgery, if he needs it-- just so we wouldn't have to bring him back there again. he really isn't fond of that place.

as a somewhat interesting side note, mimo doesn't mind going to our regular vet, dr. manley. he doesn't love it, but he's definitely not as unhappy as he is at the vet school. perhaps this is because dr. manley has a thing in her exam room similar to a glade plug-in which eminates some sort of cat-calming pheromone into the air. i'm surprised that the vet school doesn't have something similar, but then again they also treat a wider range of animals there. perhaps a plug-in for a cat would totally piss off an iguana. who knows.

so that's the update for today. i'm home again, looking after him. (happily, i've also been told to stay home because of the terrible snow conditions on the roads.) tomorrow at 7am --god, i hope the roads are better by then!-- we'll take mimo to the vet school for more string-related x-rays and further diagnostics on the pneumothorax. and we'll cross our fingers that he won't have to have surgery.

Posted by xta at 9:06 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 18, 2005

 mimo update


little shaved mimo. we were surprised to see that where his fur is a different color, his skin is a different color.

mimo is home from the vet school. he was there for less than 24 hours, but racked up quite an impressive hospital bill. over $800 so far. two ultrasounds (with inconclusive results), a second set of x-rays (ditto), a lot of bloodwork (all results within normal ranges) and some sedation (he didn't like being there and didn't hesitate to let the doctors know it). he wasn't in pain, though... the doctors palpated his abdomen frequently and he didn't really complain.

if he hadn't vomited last night and if we didn't suspect he'd eaten that fucking string, you'd never guess that anything could possibly be wrong with him.

so we're left in a quandry... ray and i really think that mimo swallowed that fucking string, but there's no concrete evidence of it. the strongest proof is this mysterious "shadow" that consistently shows up in his ultrasounds. but the shadow could be food, liquid or even a hairball; there's no way of ensuring it is actually the fucking string.

so what do we do next? the doctors gave us a number of options. the most severe is to take him right into surgery and see if the string can be located. that seemed too extreme to us.

another choice is to bring him back on thursday for an endoscopy... he would be sedated and a camera sent down his throat and into his stomach. if the doctor finds the fucking string it could likely be brought back up his esophagus. i like this option. it gives us peace of mind --we'll know for sure whether that fucking string is in his stomach-- but it significantly lightens our wallet, with the potential revealing only more inconclusiveness. another overwhelming down side to this option is the sedation. dr. mazzei is concerned about putting mimo under before a full cardiac workup can be done on him. mimo's murmur is moderately severe, and while it's something they can work around, they would like to know the cause of the murmur before they do anything where they have to anesthetize him.

the final option is to do nothing but monitor him closely and hope that he passes the fucking string in his stool. a number of doctors told us that this was a potentially dangerous choice, as you can't ensure the fucking string will travel down mimo's GI tract in an easy-to-pass, wadded-up ball. if it happens to wind its length through his intestines he will have to have surgery to prevent the fucking string from bunching his insides up like an accordion.

but dr. mazzei says if mimo were his cat, he'd likely just wait and see if he could shit out that fucking string all by himself. ray likes this option. it's the easiest on mimo (we wouldn't have to take him back to a place he hates) and on us (again, the wallet).

we have all of these options, and ray and i haven't decided exactly what we'll do yet. an appointment has been scheduled for the endoscopy on thursday, which we can cancel if we opt to. until then, we're under orders to watch him like a hawk (i'm considering staying home from work to keep an eye on him). if mimo vomits again, that's a pretty clear indicator that the fucking string is down there and is upsetting his system. in that case we need to bring him back to the vet school pretty immediately for the endoscopy and/or surgery.

so that's the full update. things are still a little up in the air, but what's certain is that mimo is happy to be home. he's still acting a bit reserved --he's probably in shock from the whole ordeal-- and sherpa for some reason is hissing at him a lot, but otherwise he seems to be behaving pretty normally. he has eaten dry food tonight (which he didn't do the whole time he was at the vet school) and ray is is currently running him around the house as he chases the laser pointer. mimo seems alert and as curious as ever.

cross your fingers for him, will you? and thank you so much for your well-wishes. (if you're praying for him, please be sure to say a special curse for that fucking string.)

Posted by xta at 11:22 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack



this photo was taken a few months ago. mimo has a talent for sleeping in curly positions.

ray and i just got back from an emergency trip to the vet school in raleigh. it's 2:30am.

yesterday mimo was playing with a long string. strings are his favorite toy. this particular string was new to him, too, and therefore very exciting. the string had been used to keep a music portfolio tied closed. it was long (it kept brahms' bulky 4th symphony tied up)... maybe 3 feet in length.

sherpa found it intriguing, too, and they played tug-o-war with it for a while (5 MB .mov), and ray and i giggled as we watched them. then we turned our backs and went about our weekend chores. i went to retrieve the portfolio 15 minutes later and the string was missing.

we looked all over the house (behind every door, under every rug) but couldn't find the string. after 30 minutes of searching we finally came to the conclusion that mimo had somehow pulled it loose and likely swallowed it. he does enjoy chomping on the strings he plays with, so it wasn't a far flung idea.

so ray --being the protective pet owner he is-- immediately called our vet. at her home. she gave helpful advice and told us to watch out for vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite... stuff like that. so we did.

and more than 24 hours went by without any symptoms. he was as playful as ever, trotting around the house and eating his food as normal. but tonight around 8pm --some 30 hours after the string went missing-- he vomited. a lot. so ray called the all-night emergency vet clinic, and they urged us to come in as soon as possible. they said that a string that long could easily impact his whole GI system and that waiting could be dangerous.

we scooped him up and ran down there. mimo was nervous and hissed a lot. he'd never been to this building before, and he didn't like it. when the vets took him for x-rays he started screaming... we've never heard him do that before. we were sad.

the doctor came back and said the x-rays suggested the possibility of impaction (though it was impossible to actually see the blockage itself). he couldn't confirm anything, but he showed us how areas of mimo's GI tract were distended... up to triple the normal size, he said. the doctor assumed that was due to gas being unable to pass through his intestines. if there was a blockage, he said, surgery would definitely be needed.

i've never much cared for the atmosphere at the emergency vet clinic. mimo was nervous there and i felt uncomfortable, too. it's not that i doubt the vets' skill at all; it's just an uninviting environment. so i asked the doctor (dr. duran) whether he would recommend we take mimo to the vet school. he recommended it, largely because mimo has the added complication of a heart murmur. (if mimo needed surgery to remove the string, the vet school has all of the equipment and medications needed to deal with a patient with a heart defect.)

so we scooped up our kitten (after paying the $140 bill) and ran him to raleigh. a team of 3 was there waiting for us and quickly got mimo into an exam room. i finally started to relax a little. i am much more comfortable at the vet school for some reason. (i guess because they took such good care of cornwallis a few months ago. in fact, the doctor in charge of mimo's case --dr. poulsen-- is the same doctor that treated corn dog initially!)

dr. poulsen reiterated what dr. duran said: that she couldn't find any concrete evidence that the string was lodged in his stomach --or anyhwere in his GI tract, for that matter-- but we did the right thing by coming in early. if the string was lodged past his stomach and into his intestines it could cause necrotization where the string rubbed up against that area. so catching it sooner was better than reacting later.

she suggested that an ultrasound be done right away (or as soon as radiology could get to the clinic... it is still the middle of the night, after all) to see if they could pinpoint a blockage. if so, then it's a no-brainer: he goes in for surgery... maybe as early as this morning. if no blockage is seen, then we need to consider whether he really swallowed the string at all, and weigh whether surgery is absolutely necessary.

it's tricky that way... if the ultrasound doesn't show anything conclusive and we wait to see how he does, he could be in danger of losing part of his intestines. but if he didn't swallow the string (but where the hell else could it be??) subjecting him to exploratory surgery --just to see if something is there-- would be unncessarily cruel to him, and costly to us.

so we're now left waiting for a phone call from dr. poulsen. there's a good chance she'll get the ultrasound done in the wee hours of the morning and will call with the results. i'm hoping it's conclusive. though i don't want mimo to have to undergo surgery, at least with a conclusive ultrasound we would know whether we were heading in the right direction.

and there's more bad news (as if our poor little boy isn't suffering enough, with a 3 foot string likely lodged in his gut, and all locked up in a cage in a hospital 20 miles away)... this is going to cost at least $1,000. minimum. and if he has to have surgery, we're looking at a total bill of $2,500 or so.

i'm going to have a hard time sleeping tonight.

update: 3:35am

dr. poulsen just called. an ultrasound was done. it showed some material in his stomach, but nothing in his intestines. (thank god.)

so what to do now? she suggests admitting him to the medicine department in the morning, where they can keep an eye on him and possibly do a "scope": anesthetizing him and going down his throat to retrieve the string.

we're to expect a call from his new doctor (in medicine) tomorrow morning around 10 or 11:00, and she'll have more information for us then.

Posted by xta at 2:36 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 17, 2005


though it's hard to get enthused about heading back to work on any given monday --and admittedly i'd rather have stayed in bed this morning-- i've got a spring in my step today that comes from residual warm feelings of a full weekend surrounded by people i love.

friday night i had dinner with two girlfriends from work. if i were a religious person, i'd say that time spent with these women is like going to church. i feel so full of spirit when i am with them, so energized and ready to take on the world... it's an immensely fulfilling experience.

saturday was spent furniture shopping (and wine- and coffee-drinking) with mary. while we were at the wine tasting, we met a young couple who lives in warrenton and are considering moving to durham. they were friendly and hip, and it felt nice to hit it off with someone new.

sunday i caught the matisse/picasso exhibit at the museum... it was the last day of the show and there was a huge crowd (even at 8am) but the art was stunning. it was like church, too, in a way... i need to remember to make more time for art in my life. it was energizing, all that beauty. my favorite work was something simply called "reclining nude" by andre derain... i've been scouring the web for an image of it, but no luck. it was a simple charcoal drawing with only minimal shading and a few light lines, but the mood it evoked was so powerful. i gasped when i saw it.

after the art, ray and i did a lot of yardwork: cleaning the gutters, trimming trees and removing a huge stump from the front yard. it felt good to be physical. i have let excercise drop from my list of priorites and it was nice to actually use my body again.

we stopped with just enough time to get cleaned up before heading to rick & deb's for dinner. charo & tom also came, and we had a long evening full of wine and amazing moroccan food. i laughed a lot and felt happy to have such fun friends.

so although monday morning came too soon (and too early) i still feel energized by a full, productive, and warm weekend.

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January 16, 2005


we run by fowler's for coffee, but get sidetracked by one of their wine tastings.

mary: if you had to give up either coffee or wine, which would you choose?

me: [gasping] oh, god!!

[long pause]

me: i think it would have to be coffee.

mary: me, too. i mean, there's always hot tea.

christa: right.

mary: can you imagine if you got some terrible disease where you weren't allowed to drink wine...?

me: ack!

mary: ...like pregnancy??

[loud, bellowing laughter.]

Posted by xta at 7:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

 dishwasher, purchased

dishwasher.jpgisn't it lovely?

armed with printouts from the consumer reports website, i headed to sears right after divaville this evening. i figured there was a slim chance i could walk in the store by 8:15 with time to browse, choose and purchase a dishwasher before they closed at 9:00.

thankfully, the salesdood was the nicest i've ever had at sears and answered all my questions quickly and succinctly. what's more, he even reaffirmed my belief that i wouldn't have any trouble installing the dishwasher myself (thereby saving a good deal of money). he led me over to a used model they had on the floor and showed me all of the tubes to hook up (all 3 of them, that is). very sweet.

his manager came over at that point, and looked at my salesguy like, "are you trying to sell her this piece of crap?" it was pretty funny how he was trying to get his concern across without coming right out and saying anything. once he realized how ridiculous the situation was, we all laughed. i kept smiling and asking their opinions while browsing around.

so after i nudged, banged and adjusted everything they had in stock i decided that i really wanted a particular model that was just out of my price range. by this time, though, me and my saleschums were all buddy-buddy, and they slyly told me that there was a $50-off coupon in the paper that i could use... but it expired tonight. in, like, 20 minutes, when they closed. so they dug one up for me. and that was all it took... the machine was suddenly in my price range. i was sold.

even better, while we were going through the sales process salesfella #1 mentions that i would also be eligible for a rebate on delivery. woo hoo! so i was saving $50 on the cost of the washer and $45 on the cost of delivery. i felt like i totally scored!

but before i could blink the transaction was complete and no confirmation printed out for the delivery rebate. my two sales-luvahs looked at each other, passed a silent acknowledgement between then, then punched some magic numbers into the computer... which credited my account for the cost of delivery, right there on the spot.

i saved almost $100, and all i had to do was be friendly. maybe my low-cut blouse helped, too, but i don't really want to think about that too much.

the only bad part of the fascinating story is that the model i chose is backordered and won't be delivered until the 23rd. but i think we can manage until then.

Posted by xta at 9:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

 good samaritan

regardless of law or urban legend, i love flashing my headlights at oncoming cars to warn them of a speed trap ahead. i get a great deal of satisfaction when i look in my rear view mirror and see those cars' brake lights and know they're slowing down to avoid a ticket.

Posted by xta at 10:31 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 12, 2005

 a month and a half ain't bad

shoes_black_sensible.JPGwell, despite what i said at the end of november i broke down and bought some clothes (a shirt) and some shoes (2 pair). i made it halfway through my vow to go three months. not too bad, considering i have never had the stamina to to even think about will power.

the shirt is pink paisley --something new for me-- and lisa approved it there in the store, so i feel like it was money wisely spent. (also, it was a jillion percent off at the belk going-out-of-business sale at the mall.)

the shoes, however, were not approved by anyone --except the saleslady-- in advance of purchase. they were on sale, too, so while i feel guilty spending the money when i said i wouldn't, it is only a little guilt, because it was only a little money.

see how easily i can talk myself out of a situation like this? if you're trying to pinch pennies, i'm the worst person you can take along on a shopping trip. i'll tell you you should buy one of everything... and maybe two of them if it's on sale.

shoes_black_stiletto.JPGanyway, the sensible shoes i bought i really did need... i have been looking for something fairly stylish --yet practical-- to wear to work with slacks. (i had been wearing my knee-high boots under my slacks, which seemed somehow to be a waste of boot.)

the stilettos, though... a total splurge. they were only about $25, though, and i thought they were fun. they are slip-ons (difficult to tell from the photo) and are actually exceedingly comfortable. so yay for that.

hopefully that's it for a while. as long as the wide shoe warehouse doesn't have any more giant clearance sales i think i'm safe.

Posted by xta at 8:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


well, apparently we need a new dishwasher. the repairman says the trouble with ours is the motor and the repair would cost $300 or more. i think we're better served putting that money towards a more efficient machine.

so the research begins. if you have any advice on what or where to buy, please feel free to chime in.

the repairman this morning suggested we purchase a model made by whirlpool (consumer reports seems to back that up) and to also stay away from anything digital. power surges can cause damage to the unit, he said, requiring more frequent repairs. "best to go with basic knobs and dials."

i don't suppose you want me to post photos of my dishwasher shopping excursions, do you? furniture photos are so much sexier.

Posted by xta at 1:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 11, 2005



i don't know how it happened, but somehow i ended up at DSW tonight. and more surprising still: i didn't buy anything. at one point i had a pair of black ankle boots in my hand, but i think i got dazed by these orange things that mary tried on. i can barely recall anything that happened after that.

those are crazy, aren't they? what's even crazier is that mary has a terrible aversion to stiletto heels. AND a strong aversion to pointy-toed shoes. yet somehow she overcame those fears tonight, and she was trying on all kinds of beautiful shoes.

she ended up buying a more sensible pair, but i have a feeling she'll end up going back for those black & purple pumps one of these days.

when we came back home ray shocked us with something orange of his own:


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January 10, 2005

 shit bucket

i was just talking to one of my co-workers, who --early on this monday morning-- already looked like he'd had his fill of frustrations for the week.

i asked him how things were going and he rolled his eyes and said, "the bucket that i put this shit in is all full up."

the shit bucket i keep at home is a little more full today, too: my dishwasher broke this weekend.

i know i shouldn't whine... it's a luxury to have a dishwasher at all. but i had forgotten how damned inconvenient it is to wash every stupid fork, lid and whisk that gets dirtied. ray and i strategically planned out our breakfast so as to use as few dishes as possible. (plus, our dinner guests last night felt compelled to subject themselves to dishpan hands, which i felt embarrassed about. usually i just shoo people away from the kitchen, saying "oh, i'll just throw everything in the dishwasher later.")

based on neighborhood recommendations i called "appliance pro" and talked to michael, who happily scheduled an appointment to come look at the damn thing. michael first wanted to know was how old the dishwasher was. i didn't know... it was here when i bought the house. it looks old, though. he told me where i could find a model number, and after reading the digits to him he told me that my dishwasher was made in 1983.

1983!! i was a freshman in high school! no wonder it's limping... i am, too. i've got bad knees and it has a bad pump. or something.

anyway, michael is going to come over wednesdsay morning and see if the dishwasher is worthy of salvaging.

if it's not, i'm not panicked... i'm refinancing my mortgage this month, which means i won't have a mortgage payment next month. i could afford a new dishwasher if i had to.

living without one is not an option. i'm far too lazy to wash dishes by hand (and far too weenie to ask dinner guests do it for me).

Posted by xta at 12:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 9, 2005

 the weekend that passed in a blink of an eye


it's a common complaint that weekends are too short, but this one felt shorter than usual.

charlotte (my couch model) and i went furniture shopping this weekend. she provided me with much-needed support... this is such a big purchase that i welcomed her offer to accompany me on my trek down US 70 (otherwise known as Furniture Row).

our first stop was at ecko, where we both immediately fell in love with the couch pictured above. i never thought i would be interested in a sectional, but this configuration was really appealing... for one thing, there was no 90-degree angle (the corner spot no one ever wants to sit in) and the end of the couch was a kind of bulbous glom, rather than a hard end (perfect illustrated by this here juno model). i think this particular couch may end up being too big for our living room, but there's still a little "gimme!" niggling at the back of my mind. another problem was that this couch was damned expensive. (like more than $2,000!!)

this palliser line of furniture is totally configurable, though. here is charlotte sitting in another assemblage of pieces. (for the record, both of these were upholstered in leather, something i don't think i could ever bring myself to do... i would opt for a microfiber fabric or something.)

after ecko we moved up the road a bit to the la-z-boy shop. HEY... DON'T LAUGH! i was lured by their recent glut of advertising for their todd oldham line, and not the really bad stuff. the shop we went to actually had none of the todd oldham furniture, but i did find this lovely piece which seems like it would work well (at about half the cost of the green palliser sectional).

since this shop didn't have anything that i came for, the dingbat sales lady sent us to the la-z-boy store in raleigh which does carry the todd oldham line... but alas, when we arrived i was spectacularly unimpressed with his stuff. it was pretty cheap-feeling and somewhat uncomfortable. his fabrics, on the other hand, were remarkable... very colorful and fun. i was told by the sales staff at this store that i could choose to upholster any piece of la-z-boy furniture (oldham-designed or not) in todd oldham fabrics. i was glad to hear that, because i think i have my heart set on this funky la-z-boy recliner. i think it might look good in polka dots alongside the red couch.

so most of saturday was taken up with furniture shopping (and i think i'll do more next weekend). sunday afternoon ray and i saw the eroica trio at duke (what phenomenal performers!), and then later in the evening fed dinner to joe and his friend, henry. afterwards all we made a fire outdoors and spotted a comet with ray's telescope. several bottles of wine later i find myself here, at the computer, stunned that it's almost time to go back to work.


Posted by xta at 9:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 6, 2005

 five things

today i:

1) met nick meglin *

2) arranged to refinance my mortgage **

3) made a                   appointment ***

4) started window shopping for new living room furniture ****

5) reserved a rental car for the end of the month *****

* nick meglin, illustrator and editor for mad magazine, is apparently a big fan of the place i work. he is going to do some illustrations for us. he is a charming, delightful man... who lives in durham.

** my swell cousin, joy --who bought a house last year, too-- clued me in to refinancing with a double mortgage to get rid of my mortgage insurance. brilliant. my house has appraised for $30,000 more than i bought it for (!!) and the process is underway.

*** there's a long post coming about this, but i need to get my thoughts in order first.

**** both ray and i have experienced mild-to-debilitating back pain after sitting on our old, decrepit couch. our other furniture is pathetic, too. we've agreed to start looking for new, ass-friendly living room pieces.

***** we're going to florida for a week to visit his family. we prefer driving (about 11 hours) to flying... by driving, we permit ourselves the luxury of removing our shoes only if we want to.

Posted by xta at 2:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 5, 2005

 i can't help myself


lulu just uploaded a bunch of photos of roxi to snapfish, and this gem was among the best. it is the best. i mean, just look at it!!

i cannot believe how gorgeous this child is.

Posted by xta at 2:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 4, 2005

 the foot bone's connected to... nothing, anymore.

i think i need to start a new category on this blog. over there on the left you'll find links to cornwallis posts, stories about old boyfriends, and all kinds of other goofy stuff. i now think i need to add one about my feet.

i feel like i am always breaking something down there. feet, toes, ankles. it's a constant affliction. last year wasn't so bad... i think i only had one semi-major foot injury and a couple of broken toes.

but i've already started off my 2005 with a bang. last night, just before mary's birthday dinner, i stupidly rammed my bare foot into my humidifier. my pinky toe caught the brunt of it. i hopped around uttering an insane string of curse words for a few minutes, then --because i'm experienced in this type of thing-- i just put my shoes on and went about my business.

i've broken enough foot bones in my life to know that doctors are rarely able to do anything about it. i'll ante up my copay just to walk out with two toes taped together, or something ridiculous like that. so i've learned to just live with the pain for a while, knowing it'll stop eventually.

when i got home from dinner last night, though, and took off my shoes, the pain really flared up. a lot. it didn't get any better overnight, either... walking this morning was not fun. i hobbled.

there is no discoloration in my foot, but i can still tell i've done something pretty bad down there. in fact, this injury may take a little longer than usual to heal... it feels like the damage is in the toe bone inside my foot (having dealt with this so much you think i'd know the names, right? i think it's "metatarsal".) so that pushing off with my foot is painful.

strangely, though, once i put on a pair of shoes (ow ow ow!) which had decent arch support my foot felt a lot better. walking barefoot was practically tortorous compared to being shod. go figure.

anyway, all of this to say that basically i'm a klutz. and i might need a new "foot injuries" category on this blog.

Posted by xta at 1:48 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 2, 2005

 looking up

the snot quotient is lessening. slowly.

but the bobby darin movie last night provided a nice chance to get out and breathe (er, sniffle) fresh air again. plus, i was astounded at how well kevin spacey did in the role! the movie itself was pretty cheesy... the cheesiness somehow worked, but it was pretty ridiculous at times. kevin himself, though... man, he can really sing those songs! i was impressed.

this afternoon i had a long conversation with my brother about us living closer together. he is definitely interested in moving to north carolina again, but just can't figure out when would be a good time for his family.

i offered to move out there, but he kept saying all of these nice things about how i'd really found my own life here in durham, and that it made more sense for them to move out here.

that's probably too generous on his part (the stuff about me having found my own life, that is) but it was really sweet of him to say.

so... after our long and emotional conversation he said he wanted to go search monster.com right away to see what might be available for him here in RTP. i doubt they'll pick up and move anytime soon (personally, i give it 3 or 4 years), but it's a great consolation to know that we're on the same page and are interested in working towards getting the family closer together.

now all we have to do is figure out a way to get mom & joy out here and we'll be golden.

so, i guess i'll continue to live my life as is for the time being. i do want to visit colorado frequently --maybe every 3 or 4 months-- so i watch roxi grow up and be close to rob & lulu. i may go bankrupt, but i think it'll be worth it.

Posted by xta at 7:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack