Thursday, June 22, 2006

Elementary carpentry

This is the windowsill that Patience built.

This is the window, as yet lacking the windowsill that Patience built:

This is the guy who stars in the video which guided Patience through the windowsill that she built. That's Tom Silva from This Old House. I worked night shift, something I don't usually do, and during the 3:00am-5:00am dead time, I looked up home improvement help on the internet and found some neat little how-to movies. J and I built the windowsill together. I was in charge of measuring and planning and he made the cuts.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Crown molding again

We are not going to let the crown molding defeat us. A friend advised us to use corner blocks, which eliminate the need for mitering one's molding. Better Living had never heard of these things, but we found them a Lowe's. They're called E-Z trim, or something similar, and serious carpenters probably disdain people who use it, but I don't care. I hate Lowe's with the white-hot hatred of a thousand suns, but they do cater to the clueless, such as J and me. These pictures show part of the room with and without the molding. And isn't that a fine ceiling fan?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Eighth grade celebration

Today was eighth grade graduation for Buford Middle School, held at the performing arts center. I love my son very much, I'm proud of his accomplishments, and I realize that moving up to high school is a big deal, for all the kids. I must admit, however, that graduation ceremonies are exceedingly tedious and today's was no exception, although, thankfully, the speeches were kept to a minimum, and one of the musical entertainments—the 8th grade string quartet was excellent.

Somewhat disconcerting was the police presence at the celebration. As I waited in my seat for the ceremony to begin, a Charlottesville police officer stood nearby—so near that I could have taken the gun out of his holster. It was strange, sitting there at a middle school graduation, for crying out loud, with a loaded gun inches from my face. I'm not sure why the police were needed. Two years ago, this exact same crowd gathered in the Performing Arts Center for the Walker 6th grade graduation. No police were needed then.

There were some rather unexpected entertainments, such as someone offstage screaming, “FUCK YOU!” during the string quartet's performance. Also, included in the Student Recognition segment of the ceremony, was the presentation of academic achievement awards from President Bush. Each winning child received a pen and a letter from W Himself. The assistant principal read the letter aloud—it was exactly the “This-is-a-great-nation-congratulations-on-your-achievement” form letter that you'd expect. “Sincerely, George W. Bush,” concluded the assistant principal. The audience responded with very little applause, and even a scattering of subdued “boos.” It's childish, but I admit that this pleased me, although I was not one of the boo-ers. Then the fire alarm went off just as the kids started parading across the stage to get their diplomas. We all froze, and in a fire-drill first, we were told, “Everybody stay seated. Just stay where you are,” and Mr. Leatherwood, CHS principal dashed off the stage to find out what was going on. The building was not on fire, and the ceremony proceeded without further incident. I wonder if the offstage screamer was the same one who pulled the fire alarm?

Monday, June 05, 2006

A cautionary tale

Once upon a time there was a Charlottesville housfrau who endured great inconvenience and disruption in order to put an addition on her house. When it was finished, she painted her new rooms with a paint described as “Jade White” but which might more accurately have been labeled “Operating Theatre” or “Chlorine.” She tried her best to get used to the color, but every time she looked at her new rooms, her heart sank. So she went back to the paint store. She looked and looked at paint chips, careful to go with colors labeled “warm” or “neutral” and avoiding “Clean,” “Cool,” or “Fresh.” Not that she didn't want her rooms to look clean, cool, or fresh, but she had learned the hard way that these hues could make a room feel either cold and clinical or manic and hyper.

She picked a new paint, brought it home, and opened the can. It was the exact same color as the old paint! Different paint company, different name, same color. She hastily slapped some paint on the wall, and noticed a subtle difference. “This new paint is warmer,” she told herself. “I will go ahead and repaint and the effect will be subtle, but Important.” So she painted her rooms with the new paint. There was a difference, although it was so subtle it was nearly invisible, and when the housfrau's husband came home he didn't notice that the color had changed, and so never found out that his wife wasted money on a whole new gallon of paint.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Can I divorce J and marry my new vacuum cleaner instead? It does more around the house and it has a suction strong enough to take the house off its foundation.

That's a joke. Of course I wouldn't trade my nice husband for a vacuum! Or would I?

So we got this new vacuum cleaner, and the embarrassing thing is, I'm not sure how to work it. It's nothing fancy—just a $79.99 Target special—but vacuum cleaner technology has advanced a lot since 1998, when I bought my last vacuum. For example, there's this little feather duster. I thought that you were supposed to attach it to the hose and somehow electronically dust all your fine furniture. Apparently, it's an ordinary non-electronic duster, but what's cool about it is that when you're finished dusting, you pop it back into its little cylinder, flip a switch, and it starts to rotate and all the dust is sucked out, plus your duster is “charged” which I think means with static so that it will attract more dust the next time you use it. There are several other attachments, including something called the “Power Paw,” which I have not yet attempted to use. What this vacuum didn't come with is instructions, which is surprising in this era of the simplest items coming with booklets of instructions. A booklet came with the vacuum, but all it details is maintenance, not use. I suppose the people at Eureka thought, “What is so hard? You turn it on and it sucks up the dust,” a commendable attitude when even my insulated coffee cup came with a sheet of instructions labeled, CONGRATULATIONS! HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR ENJOYMENT OF YOUR NEW STAINLESS STEEL DRINKWARE.

There were also none of the usual safety precautions, those goes-without-saying warnings that now come with every product imaginable: PASTRY WILL BE HOT or NOT A FOOD PRODUCT. DO NOT EAT. While writing this entry, I thought of hyperbole that would describe the strong suction on my new machine. I thought of saying that I'd held the hose to my sternum and it had sucked my heart right out of my chest. Then I realized: If I had held the hose up to my eye, it would have sucked my eyeball right out of it's socket! It really would! Even though, it had never up until that moment occurred to me that I would ever, in a million years, hold a running vacuum cleaner hose up to my eye socket, I still shuddered over the image of what would happened if I had. Why is there no, DO NOT APPLY HOSE TO SEMI-ATTACHED BODY PARTS warning on the Eureka Altima Bagless Vacuum?

I hope no one thinks I seriously expect such a warning to appear on vacuums! And yet, I work in an environment in which I see the freak accidents that happen to people. It would not surprise me at all to hear of someone who was injured by her own vacuum cleaner. Anyway. I've got to get back to learning the subtleties of the Power Paw.

But first. This weeks CSA haul:

½ dozen eggs

Lots of lettuce—both bibb and leaf

Bunch of beets




I'm a little intimidated by the beets. My sister tells me they're very nutritious. I remember my grandma would serve them at family dinner parties and I've always detested their beety flavor. So then why was I today shrieking, “BEETS ARE DELICIOUS!” at my kids after I served them raw grated beet in their salad? If anyone knows a good beet recipe, please share.

Last week we got lettuce, rhubarb, strawberries, eggs and tomatoes from the CSA.