Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Job

Customer- Excuse me, which one of these angry birds is most popular in high school?

In my head - Gee, I don't know, 55 year old woman in skinny jeans with a tramp stamp. The red one looks like a jock, so probably that one. But after high school, I'd put my bets on the blue one. He looks like he would do well in the world of post school business. Red will end up blowing his acl, lose his scholarship and end up in the park begging for breadcrumbs with the pigeons.

What I said - I don't know miss, maybe the red one?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Holes In Our Plan

Now Playing -  Always Something by Cage The Elephant

Life -  
 Well, I should have called my last post "Knock On Wood" cause just a few days later, my wife calls me from work - Her car has a leaking tire. Grr. I've kind of suspected that we'd have to get her car new tires soon, they weren't exactly new when we bought the car two years ago, and we've put a lot of miles on little Bluebelle in that time, but I was really hoping it would wait until Jan or so when we'd paid off some of these recent moving expenses.

So off to Bangor today, where we spent $400 on four tires, where we learned that her alignment is also off, which will end up costing another $300 due to some missing pin or something. (I don't speak car) It was kind of a rough trip. One of our goals this year was to kill off our credit card and we're up to almost where we were before we moved to Maine 2 years ago. Linz was in tears at one point, but the simple fact is that her safety, driving on four new tires is more important than 20% interest.

While we were in town, we decided to do the last little bit of shopping for Christmas we had to do (Pretty much everyone is getting a card this year...and nothing else) and check out the stores we haven't been to for a long time. We aren't shoppers. We hate crowds and usually take our list and buzz in, grab our stuff and buzz out. But we like Holiday decorations, so once a season we take our time and wander stores.

Plus, this was our new town and we still hadn't been into a few of the big box stores to check them out. Target had some impressively cool looking fake trees and ugly ornaments, K-Mart was trashed and cluttered and carried potatoes, which was a surprise. There was a bizarre thrift store next door that, in addition to second hand goods, they sold furniture, four-wheelers and wedding dresses. I am not kidding.

We also went to the mall and indulged in a couple of Hickory Farms treats, bought a couple of finishing touches on clearance at Bed Bath & Beyond for Linz's room (Which we've been working on for the last few days, pics soon!) And in the old Border's building, which closed a month or so ago, was a new store - BAM! With a subtitle of something like books, gifts, something and more.. It was kind of funky, the entire store was laid out almost exactly like Borders, only the place had a very rushed "We gotta get this up and open before Christmas!" feeling. Including a few exposed spots of old carpet and shelves supported with pieces of board and exposed nails.

At one point, I spotted a sign with the copyright belonging to Books A Million(Hence BAM, I assume.) , which I'd never even known they had a Brick and Mortar store. It's no Barnes and Noble, but I'll take any book store.

On the way home, we grabbed a cheap pizza at the gas station and watched Castle. It wasn't the best day in the world, but it's potentially the last trip we'll have to make into town before Christmas (Apart from driving there for work every day, of course) and despite the disappointments of the car, it was a nice day.

Breakfast at Dysarts! Half order of corned beef, raspberry white chocolate muffin, molasses toast and home fries. Awesome.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Test and a Snack

This is an awesome Kit Kat bar. though the suggestion to try again is odd. Should I be trying for something in my Kit Kat experiences?
This was posted from my phone in an attempt to find a way to post more often... We'll see if it works.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ain't Broke Yet

Now Playing -  Hold You In My Arms by Ray Lamontagne

Life -
But, as they say, I'm bending.

We moved in here a few months ago, and at the time, we were doing well financially. We'd paid off a few bills and started making headway on our big credit card. But moving was expensive. Apart from a loan for the down payment, we had to buy a mower, home improvement supplies, hook up fees, heating oil, propane, Internet... A little bit of everything. You'd think that moving from one trailer to another wouldn't require that much additional stuff, but for some reason, we kept running into expenses. Of course, a $3000 wisdom teeth bill for Linz didn't help either.

So now we have our credit card back up to where it was, a couple of home improvement store cards with balances, a dental bill and an installment plan for our heating oil and propane. On top of our utilities, car payments and Linz's student loans, which just those tally up to about $700 a month.

And we're making less money. Not a lot less, but Linz's job doesn't pay as well, it's further away and up until recently, I was gassing up more than twice as often thanks to my commute. For the last few months, it's been all we can do to keep above, to catch up on things. I'm hoping that by December, barring any emergencies, we can be caught up on all of our bills and start paying everything down again. But that's if we don't buy anyone Christmas gifts and if Lindsay's car doesn't need snow tires... Crap.

But surprisingly, I think it's worth it. We like our little home on the range, it's getting comfortable. And I love the store I'm in now, Linz's job is finally hitting some equilibrium and even if I never get a promotion, we like this area of Maine so much more than the south. We just need to get caught up and get rid of that stress.

We've been working at it though, we both have Etsy shops now, I have Deeply Dapper, where I sell Sasquatch stickers, Lego portraits and bottled beasties, and Linz has Wire Willow, where she sells her amazing cross-stitches, jewelry and crafts. (And she's got a grand opening sale going this month, coincidentally..) They aren't making us a fortune, but five bucks every now and then lets us eat out once a month or buys me some new work pants at Goodwill. (Because Goodwill is awesome and I ruin pants constantly at work...) Whispering Ferns is still available to buy and both of us should have new novels out by the end of the year. We will get there. Then we just have to start saving to buy a motel! haha

By the way, for those wondering, I am NOT going to be actively participating in NaNoWriMo this month. More about that HERE.


Monday, October 24, 2011

A Retreat

Now Playing -  I Put A Spell On You by Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Life -

After a weekend of work and a few touch-ups, our cute little shed out front that was mostly a dog kennel is becoming a retreat for me... and the dogs. So now it's a Dog/Kris Kennel. Yay!
The shed was delivered and installed a month or so ago, and a few weeks after that I installed a simple window. I used it a few times, but never really felt comfortable out here. We had planned to insulate it and fully drywall it, but after a thoroughly helpful consultation with an employee at Home Depot, he convinced us that we'd be better served going with something less temperamental than drywall. And less chewable. This really worked out well for us in a lot of ways, going with simple sheets of plywood instead. This gives me a lot more stability and security in regards to the dogs, it's easier to work with and it was less likely to snap in half as I crammed it into the back of my Honda Element for the drive home.
Installing the insulation was not fun. It's pretty crappy stuff in the best of times, but add in odd shaped sections of wall, thinner walls than insulation in places, the tendency for my glasses to fog with every breath and I was about ready to give it up.
I persevered though, and I think it will be well worth it in the coming cold months. The plyboard was a lot easier, though it still took me the better part of the day to cut and install the panels. And to be frank, it ain't that pretty. I only own one saw and I'm not the most skilled carpenter in the world, but it looks decently serviceable. At least, it covers most of the insulation and it was good enough to paint. harhar.
Painting was a bit of a surprise, the plywood eats up lots and lots and lots of paint, even using the specialized primer for plywood. But eventually it took. The walls still have a very textured appearance, there's no mistaking  what it was made from, but I kind of like the look. I am in an 8x10' shed, for heck's sake.
Ludo Helped Paint.
I went with two shades of green for the walls and ceiling. Which, I realized was the first time I've ever really gotten to choose the colors for my studio like this. I like them, it's got a pretty soothing feel and despite adding about an inch of wall to every side, the little shed seems roomier than before.
And it all works. Right now, it's a chilly 46 outside the walls of my newly dubbed Fortress Of Smallitude, and it's a comfortable 65 degrees in here. We have a tiny space heater in the corner, but once it's been on for a few minutes to take the edge off, me and the dog's body heat is enough to keep us comfy. I still have to add some studs and insulate the doors, right now they're just 3/4" panels, and we've yet to hit legitimately cold weather, but I am very excited about having a comfortable space to retreat to and write, sculpt, read or do anything, really. And the dogs love it.

Weighty Matters -  
My Current Weight - 284 lbs
Progress Thus Far -
Actually losing some weight, happily. I haven't been doing much to accomplish it, just working quite a bit and being too broke to have food in the house, but I've lost 10-15 pounds in the last few months, so it's a start. Pretty soon, Linz and I are going to start getting harder-core about our eating habits and now that we have a stove, (that's another blog...) I can cook at home more.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Mow Yard, Mow Problems

Life -  
The only flat part of our previous yard can be seen past the sleeping dog.
 We got a new yard with our new town, a lot flatter than our last yard, but bigger and presenting more challenges in a lot of ways. Our old place was technically about the same size of property, but it was filled with bushes, trees, garages and sheds and whole swathes of land that didn't need to be mowed. The large bulk of what did need cut was pretty hilly and often boggy, but it was doable. A pretty good workout, in fact.

For some reason though, when we got the new place, I figured it would be about the same amount of work. Sure, the grass percentage was higher, but the whole yard was flat and even, with just a few hills. Nothing compared to the grade on the last yard. It was a little long too, the previous owners hadn't cut it for a few weeks at least, maybe a month or two.

I tried, I really did but man... Even once I'd cut down that initial overgrowth, found all of the hidden rocks, boulders, pipes, steel rods and mailboxes (Really) that were lurking in the grass, I still couldn't keep everything up to date. Between my extended work hours and the large field, By the time I moseyed around to the other half of the lawn a week had gone by and the previous half would need it again too.

So I did what I had wanted to avoid - I bought a ride-on mower. I'd never used one before - my aunt used to hand mow her massive back yard back in Idaho and to me, the men and women cruising around on their little lawn tractors always looked so ludicrous. But the owners of the land we're on are obsessed about the yard looking good (To the point that we refer to them as Lawnlords) and I couldn't hack it with my push mower.

After a while, I finally found a model at Lowes, a refurbished model (That had never really been used. The previous owner bought it, used it once and decided they needed a heftier model) for about $800. It's nothing fancy, no bagging system or trailer hitch, or snow plow attachment or lumbar pillow or sun canopy, though it does have headlights (Which seem useless) and a shallow cupholder that launched my water bottle under the blades the first bump I hit. But it does the job handily.

I still have to avoid a few obstacles - there's a couple of rocks sticking up from the grass and a half pipe drain that juts into the yard but aside from that and some slightly steeper slopes, I can mow the entire yard in a hour or so and get a nice, even cut.
Our new yard, including our former canopy/modern art sculpture
I feel like an idiot on it, truth be told, and I'm not a very good driver, but I'm blown away by how effective and fast it is. The real major drawback of buying a refurbished model, especially when you've never driven one before, or anything remotely like it, for that matter, is that it didn't come with a manual. My wife got quite a kick out of watching me lurch my way around those first meandering circles!

I still have a few bugs to work out - mostly involving working out a pattern around the copious rocks and obstacles that don't appear to exist until you've hit them with the wheels or blade, but this was a smart purchase. 9 hours of saved time is well worth the difference of cost and loss of dignity. And I never had much of either of those anyway.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Maze Of Death!

Life -  
 I've been pretty offline lately. My work has been... complicated and has taken up a lot more of my life than usual and by the time I get home, I scarcely have the energy to make dinner and read a book for a bit.

But today was a day off with my wife and we made a go at it. We got up early and ate breakfast. We relaxed for a bit (Played with the dog, read, fell asleep in the chair...) before deciding to head down the road a bit and explore a local attraction. We'd stopped in at The Treworgy Farm before, mostly to get some ice cream, but they had other attractions, including you-pick pumpkins and apples, a petting zoo, apple cider and a corn maze!

This was the tenth year the farm had done a corn maze, each year a different design, with little stations within for you to find. This year, the maze is shaped like a horse and all of the questions were horse themed. Not that you get the feeling of horse-i-ness when you're in the maze. All form kind of vanishes and you're surrounded by thick, gently rustling stalks of corn.

I loved it. It was gloomy and threatening rain, on a Thursday afternoon after school started, so though we heard a few other visitors, we never saw a single soul in the maze. We wandered for around an hour, using the map every once in a while, but mostly getting lost in the rows. It also made me want to read the Pine Deep Trilogy of books by Jonathan Maberry, which I think I'll have to do this Autumn at some point.

Afterwards, we looked over the large selection of pumpkins, picked a half peck of apples for a few dollars (Macintosh and Cortlands mostly, though we got a couple of Delicious apples too, to see if fresh grown ones are as horrible as store bought ones - they are.) You also got a free soft serve cone with the maze tickets, so we got them in the gift shoppe, where we also picked up a jar of homemade and utterly delicious dill pickles.

I cooked up some Enchiladas Verde for a late lunch and spent the rest of the evening out in my Fortress Of Smallitude, writing a bit, sculpting a smidge and generally wishing I never had to work for someone else again.

All in all, a decent day off.