May 30, 2005

 these two must be related

french_fry_man.jpg  hot_dog_man.JPG

french fry man lives in new york city.
hot dog man lives in durham.
both are apparently somewhat cannibalistic.
separated at birth?

Posted by xta at 2:48 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 29, 2005

 weekend yardwork

ray worked with the electric chainsaw and trimmed back the remaining overgrown shrubs along the back of the house:


and this morning my neck felt good enough to keep plugging away at the back patio. i whacked away more of the embedded dirt and weeds, uncovering more flagstone and brick. (the brick apparently goes all the way around the perimeter of the stone.) i also set up the $99 (!) patio set which practically killed my car... i totally want to have breakfast here every morning:

progress feels good. sore muscles do not.

by the way, there are two yucca plants in that photo which are going to be blooming any day now (the "pods" of one of them sort of arc over the lamp-post in the picture). a neighbor stopped by today and told me that when they do bloom, we can actually eat the white leaves... she suggested "in a salad". is this a good idea?

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May 28, 2005

 did they call?


thanks to she-dork for the tip on this one.

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my neck is still really stiff. the lump behind my ear is smaller and the swelling is slowly reducing, but i still wonder what caused it and whether it's the menace behind the pain in my neck.

i had plans to do a lot of yard work today, but have instead been mostly flat on my back, resting my neck. i was thinking about going back to stone brothers and buying another sky pencil. i was thinking about putting together the patio set i bought last week. and i was even thinking about doing more edging and weeding. but all of those plans have been scrapped for the day as i try to keep my head from moving.

at the beginning of the season ray ordered an identical replacement for our broken cordless, rechargable mower. it wasn't in stock and went on backorder. for weeks and weeks. we finally got word that it was going to be on backorder until the fall. with that, we decided to call TROSA and for a quote to mow our lawn for us. (they should be getting back to me at the beginning of the week. my neighbor laura has TROSA mow her yard and it costs $45 a pop. she's got a big lawn, though.) it's an expense that neither ray or i are terribly excited about, but with all of the other yard work ahead of us it seems the most sensible way to deal with our situation right now. besides, we're growing tired of repeatedly asking friends and neighbors to borrow their mowers.

you know, i really wish i enjoyed yard work more. for me, it's such a chore. i'd rather do just about anything else. there are people who get an immense amount of joy from taking care of plants and grass, but i don't think i'll ever be one of them. i like thinking about how pretty my yard and patio could be, but i get very little enjoyment out of the work it takes to get there.

i was in home depot last week, checking out paint sprayers (an essential tool for when i finally tackle the window shutters) and i spied a deal on patio furniture: 6 pieces for $99. (a round metal and glass table, 4 lightweight metal folding chairs with mesh seats and an umbrella.) i had to ask for help getting it off the shelf and into my car, but once i was on the road i got excited about this simple fix to help make the patio look nice.

i loaded it out of the hatchback with GREAT difficulty, and the next time i drove the car i noticed strange noises coming from under the hood. i think the heavy patio set stressed one of the pulleys in the engine. a cursory glance by my mechanic assured me that i'm not in imminent danger, but i did make sure to set an appointment to get it fixed next week.

so right now the yard is a pain in the neck, my car is a pain in the neck and my neck is a pain in the neck.

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May 26, 2005

 i'm alive

i woke up alive this morning, but heard this news and wished i could just disappear from the earth.

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May 25, 2005


i woke up this morning with (and still have) a stiff neck. i assumed it was the result of a sleep error, but it's not the kind of pain that i really associate with that kind of thing. instead of a single irritated muscle (known here in the south as "a crick in the neck"), i felt more of a vague soreness... stiffness across my neck and down into the tops of my shoulders. i didn't spend too much time thinking much about it, though. i popped some advil and hoped it would get better.

then, in the car this morning, i reached up to adjust my glasses. the back of the right earpiece barely moved, as if it were wedged into place. weird. i felt behind my right ear and was startled to find a big raised spot that was warm to the touch. the whole area surrounding the bump was puffy and sort of forced my glasses against my ear.

i guessed it might be a bug bite, but it wasn't sure until i asked a brave co-worker to look at my head. she said it was pretty clearly a spider bite. it didn't look like a mosquito bite, she said, and though it was red & puffy it apparently didn't look like there was anything going on that i should be too alarmed about.

spider bite. stifling thoughts of an eight-legged creature nibbling behind my ear i suddenly jumped to the conclusion that maybe my neck/shoulder problem was related to this bite.

i just want to go on record right now: if i wake up dead tomorrow, you'll know why.

now, i can't say for sure that the two issues are related, but just considering the possibility conjures up memories of a trip i took to the emergency room almost two years ago...

it was july, i think, and a neighbor had advertised that she was giving away a litter of kittens that had recently been born to her indoor/outdoor cat. we wanted to get a little playmate for mimo, so ray and i agreed to ask this neighbor to come over so we could choose a kitten from the bunch.

she arrived around 5 or 6pm, when the mosquito population is at its most irritating. i stood in my driveway, by my neighbor's car, swatting at my legs and arms while we cooed over the little balls of fur. all of the kittens were covered with fleas; they were a pathetic sight. we chose the sweetest little girl kitten and took her inside.

within an hour or so i was noticing a weird feeling in my knees... like an odd swelling and weakness. by 10pm it was getting hard to walk; all the joints in my legs were stiffening. i woke up at 1am in pain, largely unable to move any of the joints in my body. my arms, my shoulders, my neck... my little fingers, my toes. everything hurt when i tried to move.

ray took me to the emergency room. i was crying i was in so much pain. but because i wasn't bleeding to death, the ER staff took their time getting to me. (honestly, it could have been a mere 15 minute wait, but in my agony it felt like 2 hours.)

when a doctor finally saw me, i told him about the mosquitos (west nile! rocky mountain spotted fever!) and the fleas (something equally horrible!) and they immediately started blood tests. those tests showed nothing unusual, so they decided to do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. i'll omit the details of their 7 attempts and just skip to the results: also negative.

i was writhing in the emergency room all night. early in the morning they discharged me with no diagnosis. i felt only marginally better. no one knew what was wrong with me. it took me a couple of days to finally return to normal.

so, today, i am more than a little freaked about simultaneously having a spider bite and a stiff neck.

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May 24, 2005

 i'm such a schmuck

i just cried big romantic tears over rob and amber's wedding.

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May 23, 2005


this morning when i went out to my car the gas tank flap was open and the gas cap was on the roof of the car.

this was alarming for a couple of reasons:

* i haven't purchased gas lately.

* the car was locked, and in order to open the flap you have to pull a lever inside the car.

there didn't appear to be any indication that the flap had been pried open. and as far as i could tell, there had been no siphoning... i still had the half-tank of gas that was in there last time i drove the car.

ray tried to convince me to call the police. i could find little justification for that, though... as far as i could tell, my property had not been harmed and nothing had been taken.

so i drove to work wondering what on earth had happened. is it easy to pry open the gas flap? who would have done that, then not covered their tracks? did i somehow disrupt a crime in progress when i walked out to my car this morning? so many questions...

about halfway through my commute it occurred to me that someone could have easily put something in my tank, instead of taking something out. isn't sugar-in-the-tank some kind of evil prank? my car didn't conk out, so i guess everything is ok.

it's a real head-scratcher, though.

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May 20, 2005

 tastes filling, less great


i'm baffled...

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May 19, 2005


the new DSW is now open, between chapel hill & durham on 15-501 in the kohls shopping center.

the store has only been open for a couple of days, so i thought yesterday would be a good time to check it out, while their selection was still fully stocked.

this DSW is bigger than the one in cary, and my heart leapt when i walked in... with all of this additional stock they were sure to have a nice selection of wide widths to choose from!


the only wide shoes they had were old-lady loafers. as i walked down aisle after aisle i grew more and more angry. when an employee asked me if i was finding everything ok, i totally laid into her.

"no, i'm not finding anything!! you don't have any wide width shoes!"

she started to point me towards their meager selection of wides, but i interrupted by saying, "you don't have any cute wide width shoes... the only wides you carry are grandma shoes!"

she thought this was the funniest thing she'd ever heard, and laughed out loud. i was not trying to be funny.

i asked her to please pass my wrath along to someone who could do something about it. who knows if she did; when i left she was still giggling.

it seems to me that having wide feet (or narrow feet, for that matter) is not that uncommon. right?? and just like plus-size girls longing for cute clothes to buy, we wide-footed gals also yearn for cute shoes.

now, don't get me wrong... i do have a couple of available outlets for cute wide shoes (zappos, the wide shoe warehouse) but it would be so nice to be able to shop at the same store my girlfriends do. shoe shopping isn't all that fun alone.

so, DSW... are you listening?!?

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May 17, 2005

 honeysuckle rose


well, two nights of crappy-ass sleep has made me sick. sore throat, nasal congestion. it isn't incapacitating, but i'm taking advantage of my boss' germ-phobia and staying away from work until i feel better.

when i woke up this morning i was fanatical about swallowing vitamin c and echinacea, as well as lots and lots of juice. the sore throat was miraculously gone by noon or so.

the congestion stuck around, but it wasn't bad enough to keep me from cancelling my dinner date with she-dork... especially since she & KSA have been having such a rough time lately. my eyeballs would have had to be bleeding to keep me from treating them to dinner.

i stepped out the door on my way to meet them, and was greeted by an overwhelming scent of honeysuckle. it's hugely it in bloom in my back yard, and is intermingling with some kind of rose (?) bush back there, and as i was taking this photo i thought of that fats waller song, "honeysuckle rose":

Every honey bee fills with jealousy
When they see you out with me
I don't blame them, goodness knows
Honeysuckle rose

When you're passin' by, flowers droop and sigh
And I know the reason why
You're much sweeter, goodness knows
Honeysuckle rose

Well, don't buy sugar
You just have to touch my cup
You're my sugar
And it's oh so sweet when you stir it up

When I'm takin' sips from your tasty lips
Seems the honey fairly drips
You're confection, goodness knows
Honeysuckle rose

the first two verses of that song are so sweet. the last two are more lewd than i recall.

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May 16, 2005

 sleepy daisy

i didn't sleep well last night.

and here's the thing (i can't believe i'm admitting this): i was tossing and turning because i couldn't stop thinking about gardening.

seriously. i don't know what's wrong with me.

one issue that's got my mind spinning is my front porch. i removed the rickety old rocking chair that was there and now have all of this space (remember?) -- i've been thinking it might be nice to put a dramatic potted plant there.

but i know nothing about plants. or about pots, for that matter. so after staring at the ceiling this morning, fantasizing about my options, i finally got out of bed at 5:30 and started googling.

2 hours of surfing later, i still had no idea what i should put on the porch. how on earth do i decide? there are zillions of choices! i need advice. maybe i should just opt for a bench... that's surely an easier decision.

the other gardening issue occupying my noggin is the shrubbery along the back of the house. i love having them cut way back and actually look forward to keeping these beds tidy, starting with some immediate weeding. so as i was tossing and turning this morning, i almost convinced myself to get out in the yard and actually work.

almost. googling 'container gardening' ended up being more appealing. especially since it was still dark outside.

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May 14, 2005

 yard work


ray and i worked on the yard for about 6 hours today. we trimmed some of the huge, overgrown shrubs with our new electric chain saw, leaving one bed behind our house in respectable-looking condition. i yanked tons of weeds, too, carefully trying to avoid poison ivy. our yard waste cart is jammed ridiculously full.

the biggest thrill, though, was trimming between the flagstones on the back patio area... i discovered a lovely brick border! i had no idea it was there... the grass had completely swallowed it up. i almost exhausted the weed-whacker uncovering it, though.

i exhausted MYSELF more than anything. i am beat.

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May 13, 2005

 when to fold 'em

the leak under the kitchen sink last night came from an unexpected source.

previous leaks had been at the drain's p-trap. last night it was the dishwasher's supply line.

after diagnosing the problem i couldn't believe it had ever not leaked; the water was spilling through a ridiculously-placed compression fitting which should have been a soldered joint all along.

i generally pride myself on my home improvement skillz, but i have never learned to solder. i sat in front of a cabinet full of water last night and knew i would have to actually (gasp!) call a plumber.

he arrived around 11:30 this morning and fixed the leak within about 10 minutes. then i set him to work on other tasks that i have also been so far unable to do myself: fixing the squirt nozzle on the sink faucet, and repairing the outdoor spigot.

i ended up spending a little over $100, but i consoled myself with the fact that the plumber fixed everything WAY faster than i could have (evidenced by the mere fact that these other problems have been waiting for repair for almost 2 years).

it felt a little weird paying someone to do this simple home repair for me, but in this instance i think it was really the best thing to do. i would have likely spent 4 hours just teaching myself to solder, and i don't think i would have ever diagnosed the spray nozzle problem correctly... i would have ended up buying a whole new faucet -- which would have cost $100 anyway.

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May 11, 2005

May 10, 2005

 three stories involving food

ray & i went to anotherthyme for dinner the other night.

we were told that the soup special was "beet, fennel & lime soup"

after a brief pause, our waiter said, "i don't like it."

i laughed.

* * *

the beef jerky man had an enthusiasm for his job that none of the other wandering food guys possessed.

he walked down to the front of our section and shouted, "beef jerky! who wants beef jerky?? ... HEY! WAKE UP!!! WHO WANTS BEEF JERKY??"

we all giggled collectively when he shouted at us. we appreciated his passion for jerky.

after several visits to our area throughout the game, he finally started selling some jerky. in fact, on one visit i think he sold maybe 3 packets. he was finishing up the third transaction as the first customer began eating his. that customer turned around to the jerky man and told him it was good.

the jerky man put an exaggerated hand to his hear, leaned towards the compliment, and loudly said, for our benefit, "what's that?? yes, it IS excellent jerky, isn't it??"

he ended the evening like any good comedian and said, "i'll be back friday!"

* * *

on the days when i leave the office for lunch, i often go to subway. i have two subways to choose from, and though one may be a little closer than the other i always opt for the one with the smiling sandwich maker.

he's dark-complected, of unknown ethnicity, short and bright-eyed. he smiles when i walk in. he's attentive. he always makes some sort of funny comment. today, as he was finishing my sandwich, he said, "is this for here or to go?"

"to go."

"¿aquí o ir?", he said.

i looked at him like he was crazy.

"that's spanish... 'here or to go?' do you speak spanish?" he smiled.

"no. i wish i did." i couldn't help smiling back.

"do you speak french?"

"un peu," i said.

he grinned.

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May 9, 2005

 the final day

well, everything went just fine. relatively stress-free. dad & linda were good visitors... low-maintenance and laid-back.

this afternoon dad & i went to the driving range and smacked a bucket of balls around. i hadn't taken the golf clubs out of the garage all season, so it was nice to get back into the swing of things, so to speak.

later we played more mexican train, and dad & linda left us with a set of dominoes of our own so we could keep practicing.

then we went to a durham bulls game with lisa, where ray got chosen do to one of those goofy between-inning games (8.3 MB .mov) -- three guys were tag-team rolling along the first base line in competition with three guys (one of them ray) who were rolling along the third base line. ray brought his team to victory depite a terrible performance by the middle roller.

after the game (bulls lost) we said goodbye to dad and linda; they're leaving first thing in the morning. i told them sincerely that it was nice hanging out with them, then dad said, "i feel like i have a daughter again." that's something that might have the potential to make me cry if it didn't immediately make me feel so much guilt.

anyway, they're gone now and the trip was MUCH better than i'd anticipated.

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May 7, 2005

 two down

ok, i don't want to jinx this, but their visit is going really well.

for one thing, they're not insisting on spending every minute of the day with us. they're fine just getting together for dinner, or just meeting for a few hours in the middle of the day. it's nice.

tonight we went over to the rv park where they're staying and they cooked a nice dinner for us. bratwurst on the grill, deviled eggs (ew) and fruit salad. i brought a bottle of vihno verde, which they seemed to like.

after dinner they taught ray & i how to play mexican train. it's a game of dominoes. i've never in my whole life played dominoes; it was surprisingly fun.

shortly after dark it started to rain a little, so we left for the evening. we're taking them out for brunch in the morning, then maybe a stroll around duke gardens.

i still cannot believe how smoothly this is going.

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May 6, 2005

 one down, three to go

well, day one with the 'rents went surprisingly well.

they came to work with me and enjoyed watching radio in progress.

afterward we drove home, sat around in my living room and chatted pleasantly.

then to dinner at torero's were everyone was delighted with their meal.

finally, some window-shopping in brightleaf square.

all in all, quite lovely. stunningly easy conversation.

here's hoping my luck continues to hold out...

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May 4, 2005


license plate seen on my commute:


it took me a good 5 minutes of tailgating to figure out what this person's profession was.

* * *

yesterday evening two friends came over to assess my yard. joseph & mitchell have an incredibly awe-inspiring garden themselves (joseph studied horticulture) and i knew they'd be able to give me a good idea of what should be done with the things growing around my house.

i opened a bottle of champagne when they arrived and we sipped from our glasses as we strolled around the yard. they were able to point out things that were overgrown and should be ripped out, and they gave me good ideas on what to do with some of the beds that were growing out of control. i'm glad i was drinking... as they were talking about how much work was in store for me, i found myself just giggling a lot.

now, in the sober light of day, i have no idea how i'm going to be able to devote so much time to my yard. it's going to have to be a summer-long project.

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May 3, 2005

 alien invasion

ten or so years ago i was in therapy and writing angry letters to my father.

in the grand scheme of things there was nothing really to be angry about... he never hurt me, never even said cruel things to me. he was (and is) a very nice man.

but those letters focused on the things he wasn't... emotionally communicative, an advocate for my brother and me, and most importantly a friend. i was angry that my father was never my friend.

my mom is my friend, and i'll send her a mother's day card this week that thanks her for that. i feel like i can always bare my soul to my mom, and she can do the same to me. but my dad has never been like that. he's closed-up and has always had very little to share. it is difficult to have a conversation with him... there are always a lot of long, awkward pauses.

it's no wonder those two divorced.

those angry letters to my father were harsh and full of disappointment. i basically told him that i thought he'd failed at being the best dad he could be.

that was a difficult period in my life.

my brother turned my thinking around, though, and since then i have been trying to accept my dad for who he is, and forget about him being the dad i wanted him to be. i'm making progress.

my dad and i still rarely talk, though. maybe just two or three times a year on holidays. when we get together (once a year, if that) we usually try to play golf... it's one of the few things we have in common and it doesn't require a lot of actual communication.

dad and his wife are coming to town this week to visit me. they'll be here from thursday through monday. i'm complete baffled as to how i'm going to deal with this... both emotionally and physically. my step-mom has limited mobility, so i'm not sure what i can find for us to do besides watch jeopardy each night. (channel, anyone??) but i'm worried about more than just "things to do"... when i've been around them in the past i've always made sure i'm on my best behavior. i tend censor my true personality for the sake of harmony. i think that's going to be difficult task to keep up once they're in my house. (they're not staying with us, though... they have a giant RV that they tool around the country in.)

this is going to be an interesting few days.

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May 2, 2005

 spring shoe purchases

well, i told you that i've been busy buying shoes. i am really happy with what i've ended up with:


hush puppies rodeo

i'd never seen these on zappos site. i stumbled across them on a trip to the wide shoe warehouse. they didn't have them in my size, but i tried them on anyway and loved the way they looked. after dreaming of them for nights on end, i eventually tracked down my size at

i love the juxtaposition of the thin straps and extra-chunky heel, which you can see in the side view

sofft geneva

these were on my original wish list but when i saw them in person at nordstrom i didn't like the blue color at all, so i went with pink. i was thrilled that nordstrom even carried the wide width, and i bought them on the spot from a very cute young salesman with funky glasses.

here's a side view

sofft melody

these were also on the original wish list, and are far and away the most comfortable of the shoes i've bought. they're flat-heeled, but have enough arch support that my back feels great when i wear them.

i think sofft is one of my new favorite brands. (next to hush puppies, believe it or not.)

here's a side view

trotters phebe

i spotted these at the wide shoe warehouse, too, and squealed with delight when i saw them. it's hard to tell from the photo, but the petals of the flower look like mother-of-pearl, set against a pink leather background. the stitching and foot bed are pink, too. they're totally adorable in every conceivable way.

however, they can only be worn for short periods of time, goddammit.

here's a side view

the only other shoes i purchased are a pair of rockports that are comfortable beyond belief, but i'm wavering on whether they're actually wide enough. i need to return them for a size smaller, which won't do the width any favors, i don't think. decisions, decisions...

also, i guess i should mention that i ordered a totally adorable pair of these hush puppies sandals (in green) from zappos, but when i sent them back for an exchange of size they told me that what i wanted was out of stock. i can't find my size on any other site (yet) either... i'm crushed.

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May 1, 2005

 door painting

well, the ibook is back from the apple store. i have a new LCD and a new inverter (whatever that is). the display now stays continually bright, so the problem seems to be fixed.

by the way, if you ever have to take anything to the apple store for repair, please do yourself a favor and ask for zack. oh my god, he is amazing. a true genius. he stayed 2 hours after closing on saturday night to get my repair done. when he called me at close to 11pm he said i could come in before they opened on sunday to pick it up... "i'll be here... just knock on the door and get my attention... i'll let you in."

he went WAY above and beyond for me. he totally rocks.

so now that the computer is back i can detail some stuff about my weekend:

friday night:

i went to mary's first big art show. she makes earrings (slogan: "jewelry and more, to support my shoe habit.") and has often thought about trying to make money making earrings. i'm pretty sure she made some money this weekend at the MOMart show.

also saw the hitchhiker's movie, and had a good time laughing with the mcventrils, dick umbrage, spacegrrl and the mintys. excellent fun.


crappy weather. i had lots of home improvement plans, but the weather on saturday threw my schedule out of whack. i did what little i could (mostly just fixing the leg of a chair while mimo supervised), then i packed it in and made a nice dinner.

  • creamed spinach & mushrooms:
    1. take one box of frozen chopped spinach and thaw it in the microwave.

    2. while the spinach is thawing, chop about a half-package of mushrooms, a quarter of an onion and 1 clove of garlic, and sautee in a skillet with some butter.

    3. when the spinach is thawed, place it in several layers of paper towel and squeeze every last bit of moisture out of it.

    4. add to the skillet about half of a small container of cream cheese and about a 1/4 cup parmesean cheese.

    5. when the cheese starts to integrate with the mushroom/onion mixture, place the spinach into the skillet and move everything around until the spinach is totally coated in the cheesy mushroom stuff.

    6. season with salt and pepper and serve.


started work on the house around 10am; the sun is shining! finished sanding the back door, caulked the cracks. (we notice when it rains that the inside of the back door gets wet; i tried to patch whatever cracks in the wood i could find, and am going to prime and paint it in the hopes of more properly sealing the exterior from the elements.)

i also finally painted my front entryway:


i'm sure my neighbors think i'm crazy.

it's going to take me a while to get adjusted to the bright orange, but i think i like it. i still have some touch-up work to do (i want to put a bit of orange around each of the entryway windows), but after this particular project is done, i think i want to paint my shutters the same yellow as the entryway. what do you think? yes... i think yellow shutters are a must now. maybe. i don't know.

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