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Archive for July, 2011

6:30am: Wake up, feeling refreshed and well slept.   Head downstairs to make the coffee, and notice that we’d had a few showers in the night.  Remnants of Don, I suppose.  The sky looks washed clean, the patio plants are wearing necklaces of dew and rain, the air outside feels lighter than inside the house.

7:00am: Head back upstairs with second cup of java, the gang still asleep, N sideways across the futon, Dexter’s head on the end of the air mattress, Robert’s head off the other end half on the floor and half on the pillow.  Dip into the latest Entertainment Weekly magazine, and enjoy a quiet hour to myself while the room breathes in and out in dreamland.  Room temperature: 78.

8:00am: Everyone begins to stir.  Grab third cup and switch from magazine to the Last Lion, it’s 1994 and Ted Kennedy is running for re-election to the Senate.  Hope I can finish it before our trip on Wednesday, it’s too big a tome to bring along.

8:40am: Call ARS to find out what time we can expect the AC unit to arrive.   “They’re on their way.”  Eek, we are all still in our nighties and shorts.  Hurried rush to get dressed and teeth brushed – even the toothpaste is melting in the humidity.  Move the car from the carport to the street.

10:40am: AC guys still haven’t arrived.  Call ARS again.  “They just left the shop with the equipment, they’re on their way.”

11:40am: Still no sign of them, so N and I head over to our clubhouse.  She’s wearing a pretty hair slide and lei from our dear friend Uncle Jeff, who just returned from a trip to Hawaii.  A neighbour is throwing a party to celebrate her son’s first birthday.  We say hello to some friends and meet the family, and marvel at the sight of a whole roast suckling pig being carved up on the table.  N digs into a plate of watermelon.  I chow on the Philippino feast.

12:30pm: “They’re here but they can’t find your house.”  We head back home and find them wandering around the cul-de-sac.  Neither of them speak more than a few words of English, so we communicate in Spanglish.  The Work Begins.  N and I head inside to get cool and watch Prince Caspian, which I found at the used movie store last week for under $10.  We rented the Voyage of the Dawn Treader recently and watched it several times over.   She tells me she “loves Asland” and wants to be Lucy or the White Witch for Hallowe’en.  I am beyond thrilled that she appears to love Narnia as much as I did growing up.   I remember a wonderful BBC adaptation of my favourite book – The Silver Chair – starring Tom Baker, who was well known at the time as one of the incarnations of Dr. Who. The books were, I suppose, my Harry Potter – I read them many, many times over and often sneaked into my grandparent’s bedroom to see if I could get through their old English wooden Wardrobe to Narnia myself.

2:24pm: All Finished. Bye Bye old unit.  It looks very small and insignificant compared to the new one.  And it’s So Quiet.  I cannot even believe it is on, except for the cool air blowing through the vents inside the house.  Inside temperature: 85 degrees and falling.

4:00pm: We put on Back to Black and dance around the living room for a bit.  Feels good to be cool.  Amy, your wonderful sultry tones will be missed.

4:30pm: Discover a coupon in the Tanglewood Buzz magazine for one of our favourite eateries: Berryhill Baja Cantina  – and head out for dinner – free queso, kids eat free on Saturdays, and a whole lot of yummy.  I have a number 6 – grilled fish taco, 2 chicken tamales, black beans and rice.  Robert gets 2 tacos, one fish, one steak, plus rice and refried beans.  N has her guacamole and fresh chips and is happy – plus the cheese quesadilla and fries (why DO they serve fries with a quesadilla anyway – kids carb overload!) of which she eats none.  “Mommy can I save them for later please?” She works hard on colouring the treasure map with the crayons she was given by the hostess.   We sit and relax, and enjoy each other’s and our own company.

The restaurant is named after Walter Berryhill, who began by selling fresh tamales in the 1920s from his pushcart in the tony River Oaks neighbourhood in Houston.  In 1993, he took his tamale press and pushcart and disappeared quietly into retirement. The original tamale press is apparently in the Smithsonian now, but a replica sits in the restaurant close to where we are sitting tonight.

6:05pm: Head home and get changed quickly for an evening dip in the pool.  We have it All To Ourselves.  This is worth the Overpriced Condo Homeowners Fees.  N keeps us entertained by practising her swimming.  The Girl Who Hated Water on her Face at the beginning of the summer is now a bona fide mermaid impersonator.

7:15pm: Back home and time to hit the shower.  Enjoy some icecream and watch a little TV.  Put N to bed and back downstairs for the Young and the Restless weekly recap shows. Load up the daily photos and make notes for the blog.

11:55pm: Robert heads to bed, and I follow soon after.  Inside temperature now a very comfortable 76 degrees.  Say a little thank you prayer for our modern conveniences and hit the sack.

Number of Photographs taken: 98.  I had a lot of favourites today, so I made 3 collages.  One more day to go.

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A Long Week and Friday Finally Here.  The promised deluge from Tropical Storm Don turned out to be a burst of disorganized storms.  Nothing like the 25 inches we supposedly need to get out of the drought.  Still, it was good to see some dark clouds overhead and feel the spatters of rain.  And there’s good news on the AC, they are supposed to be here tomorrow to install the new unit.  Fingers crossed It Happens.

Today was N’s last day of choir camp, and the kids were scheduled to sing at the Hope Village – a home for mentally retarded adults and children.  Shawn and I went there with the kids to have lunch and see them perform – they sang beautifully.  The last song was “Go now in Peace” which we’ve sung in her Wednesday family chapel  – but this time performed with hand chimes and with the children singing in a round in 2 groups.   The residents of the home really enjoyed the children’s performance and a few of them joined in the songs too.

We headed to the pool for a dip after I finished my day at the home office, lovely sunset, cool water, just the thing to finish off the working week. Unfortunately the peace was broken by two young chaps walking two dogs apiece in our park.  Non Residents.  I was in That Kind of Mood so instead of ignoring them as I usually do I went over to Have a Word.  Claiming ignorance, the elder of the two said he “Didn’t Know” this was a private park.  Despite the fact there are Signs everywhere.  They picked up their dog poop and left, but not without a backwards insult yelled from across the park at my husband glowering at them from inside our gated pool.  Ironic isn’t it – we are a 90% owner-occupied townhome community yet we are one of the only two complexes on our street without gates.  All the apartment/rental complexes have them.   It wasn’t really a huge problem before, but we’ve lived here for 9 years now and in the past 6 months have noticed a big influx of people using our streets as a cut-through, using our park, walking their dogs AND without picking up the poop – and worse – casing the joints.   To add insult to injury right after we chased off the Non Resident Dog Walkers, a Non Resident Family biked around the park as bold as brass then disappeared up the road to the apartment complex south of us.   While gates wouldn’t stop people completely if they’re casing a joint or planning a break in, it would hopefully be somewhat of a deterrent.  Unfortunately, we need a majority vote to instal gates and the few stubborn holdouts just don’t see the need.   And our HOA has their own agenda and think an off-duty police officer driving around at night is Enough Security.   I’d never heard of an HOA before and boy do they rule the roost here.

After all that we needed a cold shower.  N has become a Shower Fiend.  From “Mommy Please No Water on my Face!” at the beginning of the summer, to “Mommy can I take another shower I love it” and “Look at me I can put my Whole Self under water” in the pool.  Thank goodness, as washing her hair has been a Nightmare for the past 12 months.

With all the bumps in our road this week, I’m so thankful for our modern conveniences  – it’s too easy to take running water and our good health for granted every day but we need to stop and give thanks more often.  Gave N an extra big hug and lots of kisses at bedtime tonight.

Number of Photographs Taken: 44.

Here’s a photo recap of our Finally Friday.

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The drive-thru has to be one of the best American inventions ever.  You can go to the bank, get your prescription refilled, get breakfast lunch and dinner, and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your air-conditioned car.  Except of course if the bank machine has no money, the pharmacy fills the wrong order, and you don’t have enough change in the car for food.  The usual morning chaos of getting ready for camp and work.  Hot hazelnut coffee and a kolache helped.  Breakfast treat.  Unfortunately not drive-thru but I’ll take it nonetheless.

Gave me a good start to the day, got a lot of work done, managed to sneak in a haircut at lunchtime – in and out in 20 minutes, amazing.  First one since January (other than grabbing the scissors at home), no wonder my split ends were flying everywhere. Heading home I dropped off yet another Redbox movie we never got around to watching – I seem to spend more renting movies we don’t watch than renting movies we do.  Except for N’s movies, and that’s a whole different story.  Spent so much renting How to Train Your Dragon we could have bought it 4 times over before we actually DID buy it.  The rental concept doesn’t quite work in a 4-year old brain.  Maybe we should spend more time at the library instead of the bookstore…

Met up with Shawn and the kids after camp at the dance center where the girls will be taking ballet this year.  Chaos.  Stuck at a stop sign in Memorial Mom Traffic Hell.  No parking.  Bluebell icecream truck taking up too many spots.  Summer camp – 30 girls aged between 5 and 7 running around in ballet gear, their moms too busy chatting to watch what their girls were doing, decibel level right up there with an Aerosmith concert.  Finally got our girls fitted for ballet and tap shoes, met their new dance teacher – one more thing out of the way before school starts again.  Check it off the list.

Had a yen for a baked potato, but too hot to cook – still no AC installation date set, so headed around the corner to Bakers Ribs, our local BBQ joint, for a stuffed one with the works.  Love that place, the tables look like heifer hides, the walls are brick red and it’s dark and dim – feels like it should belong in a small Texas town, where having big hair means you’re closer to God and the men go to bed with their boots on.  They have this wonderful marinated tomato side dish which I just want to shovel in as fast as I can eat it, goes great with the spud.

After dinner, N and I went on an adventure to find the dandelion fountain – but it was switched off.  Great.  Making the best of it, instead we explored a little of Eleanor Tinsley Park – an urban green space I’ve never visited even though I’ve lived in Houston 11 years now.  We walked across the Rosemont Bridge and saw fish jumping in Buffalo Bayou, then admired the seven 10-foot Tolerance sculptures installed on Allen Parkway in February and designed by Barcelona artist Jaume Plensa.  The sculptures are see-through and built out of a mesh of several different languages, including Latin, Hebrew, and Chinese.  It was all Greek to me but we had fun examining each one together.

On the way back to the car N of course wanted to walk down the hill and see the dogs playing in the park, so we did.  Met a viszla called Wrigley and a doberman called Zack when they both came running up to N and started licking her hands.  Dogs just love her, she was born in the Chinese Year of the Dog so there’s obviously some kindred spirits there.  N said we should bring Dexter next time.  Great idea.  I used to worry about letting him off leash at the dog park but he knows which side his bread is buttered so I don’t think he’ll be heading off to greener pastures anytime soon.

Reading to N in bed tonight she told me that “the greatest gift to a Daughter is to have you as a Mother.”  It’s a quote she heard in the Mulan movie but warmed my heart nonetheless.   And what a gift we were given in our daughter too.

Number of Photographs taken: 68.

Here’s a photo recap of my day.  As the Magic Roundabout’s Zebedee would say – Time For Bed.

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Two goldfish were found in Christchurch after 134 days living without fresh food and water.  Shaggy and Daphne, as they are named, ate algae and their dead friends – enabling them to survive in their tank after the New Zealand earthquake in February.  We are on day 8 of no central air, and I’m surviving on cold leftovers and my British sense of humour. Surprisingly, we slept reasonably well squashed in N’s room together last night – she and I on the futon, R on the air mattress, Dexter on the floor.  Room temperature about 80 but it felt like 70 compared to the rest of the house.

Opened a fresh bag of coffee this morning.  My bougainvillea is flowering again.   Breakfast of Greek yoghurt, granola and fresh fruit.  N off to camp with a cheery smile and a wave.  PC is working well – hurrah.  Running errands at lunchtime I discovered a fountain I’d never seen before and wow, a rainbow leading right to me through the water haze….surely that’s a good sign although I didn’t find a pot of gold at my feet….yet.

Still no word on the replacement AC unit but I continue to Hope that we will be cool again by the weekend.

Mother Nature has other plans, there’s a storm brewing in the Gulf and we could be in the path.  Don is his name, and wind and rain is his game.  I remember Ike and it wasn’t pleasant.  Howling winds and lashing rain for 12 hours straight and no power for 18.  But hey, at least if we lose power, we won’t lose the AC – since we don’t have any – ha!  Well…that’s not quite true, as we do have the portable, but you get my drift.  It was about time that we got storm prepared anyway – as we definitely need more working flashlights than N’s Cinderella lantern.  So off to the 99c store it was tonight for batteries, water, disposable plates, garbage bags, and doggie treats.   Round 1 of Operation Hurricane Emergency Supply complete.

Cold leftovers for dinner and a swim in the pool to cool off.   Loaded the day’s pics and charged up the camera battery for tomorrow.

Number of Photographs taken: 85.

Here’s a few images from today.

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Well I guess terrible is a bit strong, but what a day it turned out to be.  Funnily enough, I had my best night’s sleep since this whole AC fiasco began, 8 hours.  Got up and put the coffee on…..why I am having HOT coffee when we are without AC and it’s 86 inside the house is a good question, but I’ve become a coffee gal ever since we got our programmable Cuisinart.  I look forward to my jolt of java daily, a little dash of cinnamon on the grounds before brewing gives me a good wake up call.

Cuddled with N in our big comfy bed then after she had some breakfast I took her to day 2 of choir camp.  86 degrees inside the house, 85 outside.  Crank up AC in the car.  Feel slightly better.

After I got home the day got steadily more stressful.  Spent almost 2 hours on the phone with Tech at head office trying to set up my new laptop, most of the first hour laying on the floor under my desk trying to configure the new PC then up and down the stairs with the router info, finally tracked down the security key for Wifi only to find out that the PC wasn’t set up properly.  Me: “There’s a funny icon on the right side of the keyboard, looks like a signal tower with radio waves, shouldn’t that light be on?”  Tech: “Don’t worry about it, is the wireless switch set to green?”  Me: “Yes but I really think that light should be on.”  Set up complete, Tech discovers wireless not programmed.  “Are you sure that light isn’t supposed to be on?”  Rebooted, hooked up to broadband directly, lying on floor UPstairs under desk.  Me:  “Oh look, remember that light that wasn’t on?  Well it’s on NOW and look, I can see my wireless network too.”  Enough said.  Five minutes later, I am all connected, but now the fonts are so tiny I can’t read my screen.  Sigh.    Meanwhile, it’s so hot back in my office I feel like I’m melting but unlike the Wicked Witch of the West a bucket of cold water on my head would feel fantastic.

Grab the last grape soda in the fridge and realise I am starving.  No wonder, I haven’t had any breakfast and it’s now 11.45am, so head out to grab lunch at Whataburger and the drive through line is longer than the queue for Take That tickets.   So go inside and am given number 13 for my order.  Symptomatic of how my day was going I suppose?  Lunch was yummy though, I have become a Whataburger fan (probably because it’s also on the corner of our street) and chowed down the grilled chicken sandwich and some onion rings.  Grease was the word.

Hotter than Hades back at home and R decides we need to move the portable (ha! that’s a joke it weighs a ton) AC unit from our big bedroom to N’s Room.  Never mind it’s half the size and we will be 3 plus dog in there, plus I haven’t taken down her day crib either.  But he insists, so we do it.  Stuck my head practically IN the AC unit to cool down my core temp, then back to work for a few more hours and it’s finally 4pm and N is home so off to the pool we go.

Best I’ve felt all day.  Watching the kids swim and have fun, took some jump shots of friend Elizabeth’s kids in the deep end, N as always having a blast, even R got into it and we stopped snapping at each other.  Suddenly it’s 6.30pm and time to go, got N fed and set up with her coloring stuff then dashed to Kroger for some cold deli stuff for dinner – Texas caviar, sundried tomato pasta, mozzarelly salad, broccoli coleslaw, pickled beets, yum.  Wrapped up in iceberg lettuce, my new favorite dinner.

Loaded up the pics from today while N finished watching Mulan II and coloring some more, then she’s off to bed with Teddy and asleep in a jiffy.  And I’m off to bed with Ted soon myself.  As in Kennedy, well not literally obviously but the Boston Globe writers’ bio which is proving to be a really good read.

Pretty sunset tonight.  Number of Photographs taken: 50.

Tomorrow and tomorrow, and we do it all over again.

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On the spur of the moment, I joined Ali Edwards Week in the Life group over at BPC.  Heard about it through Tracey Clark and so glad I joined.  Here’s what Ali has to say about her experience with this concept:  http://aliedwards.com/2011/07/week-in-the-life-2011-monday-cool-announcement.html

I’ve always been a journaller and been blogging a bit this year so seemed like a good way to combine the two.  I’ve been taking photos daily as part of the Picture Summer (Redux) class this month and it seemed like a good way to take my mind off the No AC problem.  Yes, we are sans AC for 6 days now, hanging on by our fingernails but geez I will never complain about the cost of central air ever again.

So here’s my Monday.  Woke up at 4am all of us crowded in our big bedroom as it’s where the temporary AC unit is.  Tossing and turning until back to sleep around 5am.  Up at 7, coffee on, get N up and ready for the last full week of summer school – this time choir camp over at Holy Spirit.   Cooler outside than inside.  Grabbed kolaches on the way home and got on with the work day.   The usual Monday chaos, fortunately none of it mine for a change.

Took dog out at lunchtime, breezy, strolled among the sprinklers, what a relief, cooler outside than inside.  Sigh.  Try not to get crabby. Run over to Academy to pick up leotards and tights for the girls’ ballet classes.  Think about moving into one of the tents inside the store, the AC feels wonderful.  Either that or I am going to live in my fridge for the next few days.  Call home warranty company and sit on hold for 26 minutes.  Find out our AC replacement unit is not even scheduled for delivery to AC company til the 29th.  Looks like a few more days of misery ahead.  Keep telling myself it’s better than $2800 out of pocket.  Look at Mary Engelbrecht card I keep on my desk and try to Snap Out Of It. R is Not Happy.  He’s not handling this AC thing well At All.  Thinks this whole home warranty thing is just Too Good To Be True.  I go back to work and try to stay cool with the fan blowing on my head.  N comes home from camp and we make the best of it.  She’s all excited about all of us having another sleepover in our room with the AC unit AND the dog.

Watched the news with the awesomely cool Diane Sawyer and found myself very moved at the comments from Russell Brand on the weekend death of Amy Winehouse.  You can read the full text here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jul/24/russell-brand-amy-winehouse-woman

Such a sad end to a beautiful talent.  RIP Amy, your voice will be missed.

No pool tonight so took long long cold showers  – dinner was ravioli for us, penne and peas for N.  Ten minutes on the stovetop and the kitchen is as hot as Hades house.  Cuddled up with N and watched Gnomeo and Juliet. Needed a bit of British humour to lighten the mood.

And so, another Moanday is done.  Number of Photographs taken: 25.

Here’s a few images from today.

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