Thursday, November 26, 2015

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah...

Dinah is cooking someone we knew...

As for the Cookie and the Husband, we're having a nice, quiet meal of real turkey here at the house.  Then we are going to nap.  Because that's what the Pilgrims did.

Hows about you?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Well if Blobby can do it...

Blobby has committed typeface to blog-o-space and delved deep into the world of the Meme of "Your First Time."  You know the drill, standard questions. baring your soul, seeing reads it.

So here goes nothing:

My earliest memory 
My mother getting me ready for bed and delivering me a dose of Petrogalar, which was kept the in linen closet on a top shelf.  What is Petrogalar?  Better yet, what was it?  Well, Petrogalar (or Cascara Petrogalar as it sometime was sold) was a children's laxative and stomach soother in the vein of mineral oil and malox.  It came in a relatively elegant deco bottle, clear glass, tall with a wide mouth and a light blue label.  I remember the label because I recall the lowercase "g" was one of those that used a circle for the tail.  Anyway, I was a horribly collicy baby and had horrible stomach problems as an infant, toddler, child, teen, adult. And I never minded taking a spoonful, until my mother started buying in a brown bottle, and I refused it.  I think it was a different brand.  But I hated the taste of it when it came from that different bottle.  
First airline flight 
We flew on American Airlines from California to Ohio after driving a Lincoln Continental out to my uncle who lived in Bel Air.  Why?  Because cars were cheaper in Ohio in 1968. 
First time ‘doing it” 
This is a tricky one.  I used to do what most boys do - which is look and compare, with a bit of mutual play when I was very young.  But none of knew what were doing, or that something great could "come" from it.  It was just hey, you have what I have.  

And then there was my father, who loved me in the most inappropriate way possible. It was sex for me, it was sacrificing yourself in hopes of being loved. 

The first time doing it as "sex" is a much more, shall we say, dangerous thing.  It involved me, learning from Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex - which was not a glowing way for an 11 year old to learn about sex between men, but it gave me a very exciting image - that those holes in partitions, in the bathrooms that my parents told me to never go into alone, were for sex with another guy.  So my first foray in the ecstatic feelings of arousal and another male's parts happened in the mens toilet at the long gone May's on the Heights in the west basement when I was in fifth grade, so 1973ish.  The other party could have been my father's age.  

This is not how anyone should learn about sex.  And thankfully, we live in a time now when kids - whenever they identify those feelings - have books that they can read and a hopefully find a more accepting support system then I had in 1973.  Hopefully, this helps to keep children out of the hands of adults who took advantage of us.  Do I hold any hard feelings towards that man?  No.  But it shouldn't have happened.  And I wish I had common sense enough understand how dangerous it was for me. 
First surgery
My gall bladder removal.  

First car
A 1973 Ford LTD Brougham four door sedan.  Green.  I hated that car. 
First death of someone close
This is a hard one - because we lived with death in our house.  My father's first wife - the mother of my brothers died when the brothers were children, but after my mother married my father.  So she, and her death, were always with us.  We also lived with the death, nine years before I was born of my mother's beloved youngest sister.  There were reminders of her everywhere but her name was never spoken out loud in front of my grandparents, who never recovered from the shock and loss of losing a child to a brain tumor at 21.  I had an uncle, Bob, who would stop by my grandparents home on the holidays.  Harriet Ann and Bob were highschool sweethearts, newly wed, when she died suddenly.  But my mother always would snap that Bob wasn't my uncle because Harriet had died before I was born, ergo, she was not my Aunt.  From this I learned that everyone grieves in a different way.  I also learned not to say "I'm sorry" when someone dies.  It's only applicable if you kill someone, which I haven't done.  Instead, you let the survivor speak, or remain silent, you hold their hand if they need that. You do for them that which needs doing.  And you call on them after all the mourner have left because that is the loneliest moment in their loss. 

So even as a small child, I learned that death happens, and it takes people from you, and that you will never see them again.  So when my father's father died when I was seven, I took it in stride, and understood all that it implied. 
First drink
Probably a sip of apricot brandy when I was child.  It was my grandmother's cure all for a sore throat.  
First regret
First?  Probably being caught in a lie when I was child and being punished for the dishonesty.   As an adult, I have many.  Maybe I'll learn from them one day.
First time rolling down grass hills
During my childhood in Shaker Heights, most likely.  Our house on Sherrington Road had a hill in the front yard.  
First pet 
A dog - a boston terrier - named Gypsy.  Much beloved.  My mother gave him away early one morning when I was five and asleep and we were moving.  She claimed he ran away and only toward the end of her life admitted that she had taken away from me the one being I loved more than anything.  I never let take care of any of the dogs I have owned.  Sorry, but you don't take away a child's dog. 
First time you knew you were different
Oh lordy!  What kind of different?

I was a child raised in a lax Jewish house.  I was never like my cousins who were all older.  I wasn't like my mothers family, who were all Methodists and people of simple means.  I had learning disabilities, so I was different from all my school mates.  And I liked to play with dolls, so I was different than other boys.

So I have known I was different, and have never been the same, until I came out of the closet.  A first step towards being normal on January 21, 1983. 
First presidential election
"1984.  I voted for Mondale.  Well, not true. I voted against Reagan." ~ Blobby.  And blobby said it best.  

First time you felt you were an adult
The night of January 21, 1983, when I came out.  When you take responsibility for yourself, then you are an adult.

First opera
La bohème.  My second Opera?  That is still waiting to happen. 
First time out of the country
Canada, although someone said that it really doesn't count because it's attached. 
First job
I carried the Cleveland Press.  In Fifth grade.  Gawd, I hated doing that in winter.
First time you ate rats at Tewkesbury
You got me.  First time eating a cock in Cleveland, see above.  

First kiss
I kissed a girl named "Clare" at summer camp and remembered that there was nothing.  The first I kissed a guy - actually a man who used his tongue when I was a teenager, now THAT was something. 

First realization of the axiom “life is not fair”
I was so burdened by a child's wishes that the Hell I was trapped in our life would go away and it never did - that was when I learned that life was not fair . 

First disgraceful behavior
I would say taking myself to places where men lurked, and like what they did to me as a child is pretty disgraceful.  That said, yeah, that would be it. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Doing Things You Hope Never to Do & Then Good Fortune: We are in contract!

A friend found this piece of "Made in Occupied Japan" and didn't
buy it.  I would have loved owning it.   

I will tell you - sometimes you have to do things that you hope no human will ever have to do to get a home sold.

But it looks like it took TWO St. Joseph statues to get the old place sold.

Around the first of November, Cookie and the Husband were beginning to get a bit scared.  No offers, no traffic, nada.  We had dropped the price of the Tudor Cottage to our lowest point.  And nothing.

There is a bit of superstition that in you bury a statue of St. Joseph upside down on the property lot (or in a potted plant if you life in an a hi-rise) and tell said religious statue as the patron saint of families that you need to sell the house so your family can be reunited as one, St. Joe will get the job done.

Well, we had buried the St. Joe that we used in Columbus and buried him upside down (per tradition) in the yard and waited.  NOTHING.  I moved him to a better spot and the house across of the street sold instead.  My realtor, fearing that I would dig up St. Joe a third time, and on the verge of hysterics, begging me not to disturb the mojo suggested a second St. Joseph.

Couldn't hurt.

Then we found three families that wanted to rent the house, through May of 2017.  Well that would take care of our mortgage payment and property taxes, and while not ideal, sometimes you take what you gotta take.

Still, I buried that second St. Joseph in the back yard.

I hunted down the first St. Joseph only to find him laying down under the inkberry holly where I put him on his head.

So I dug him up and replanted him, upside down - as tradition dictates - threatening him (also, as tradition dictates) to leave him there until he found a buyer.  Furthermore, I told him that he would spend eternity in the ground IF the St. Joseph in the back sold the house first.

Now, before anyone calls the boys from Happy Valley to put cookie in the padded room - remember, sometimes you have to do things that you hope you would never resort to to change the energy around you.

And you know what?  As the lease was being prepped, we had twenty showings, six second showings and *TING!* we found ourselves in contract!

Better yet - the contract is for "As-IS" on the house.

Thank Christ and Saints Joseph and Joseph!

Our targeted close is December 31st.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Christmas for MJ is taken care of...

Found at a Goodwill in Nebraska:

How can I get to Mebraska to buy it, and will it pass customs?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

So how was your Halloween?

Ours was exhausting.

The couple we bought our home from had old couple that had a tradition.   They passed out small Dixie cups of boxed wine to parents in the neighborhood.  We continued the tradition, but it being the first year, we were very careful which adults got wine:

1) You had to be from our neighborhood.
2) You had to be a parent.
3) You child needed to be in costume.
4) You needed to be 21 years of age or older.

For everyone else, they got a box of raisins and encouragement to go home and make their own.

But dear God!  The children.

On the old street we were lucky to get one or two trick or treaters.  Here we had HUNDREDS.  Literally, they swarmed.  And they have a parade first.  Unlike anything I have seen in Baltimore before.

We must have had 100 little girls dressed as someone from Frozen.  And one Little Boy dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  His bespectacled Mommy stated "Aiden is breaking gender barriers."  No.  Aiden is Belle.  You are projecting the gender barrier thing.

Anyhow, its time we scream into Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Now is the time of those disconnected pipes...

So, what has Cookie been up to....

Well, the old house is still for sale, much to our dismay.  Despite being in top condition, so clean that you can eat off of the floor, and a lawn so well manicured that it puts the neighbors to shame, we aren't getting showings.

Our real estate hunk, Chuck is advertising the bejebus out of it, and the open houses are packed, but no private showings.  Well, I take that back - we've had six in two months.  And the house was in a shaky contract, but that fell through - and not because of the house or its condition.

The feedback is as follows:

1) Charming house, but street is too busy.
2) Lovely house but the electrical pole is wrong place. 
3) Gorgeous back yard, but no deck.
4) Love the staging, not the house.  Is the dining room table for sale?
5) Really very nice, buyer might be interested if selling will fund the addition of two more bathrooms. 

I K.I.D. you not.

We have dropped the price three times.  The house appraised for $60,000 over the contract price when we were in contact with contingencies in August - that deal fell through.  And that contract made me uneasy because one of the buyers was running an unlicensed day care out of her home.  I liked our old neighbors and would never want that on their shoulders.

And now there are FIVE houses for sale on the street, all asking more than $175,000 over our asking price.

The only consolation is that they aren't getting showings either.

So we wait.

Meanwhile I have to sleep in the old house periodically to keep it occupied. No fun.

In other news, we have found a problem with the new house that the previous owners had failed to disclose by closing.  And they don't want to fix it.  Since we are in arbitration with them, I can't say anything, suffice it to say that we are "dismayed". When a decision gets passed down, then I can pass it on.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The offending bathroom

God Bless Norma Desmond, because he forced me to face that dratted bathroom and photograph it, and that led to a frank discussion with the husband, which led to some plans and some action.

Here we have the offending wallpaper.  I am sure it was lovely when Jimmy Carter was in office, but it really bugged us.  We thought it was because it was to feminine, too whispy, too old lady.  Or it could have been because it was a sloppy installation that was now peeling.  But upon looking at the photograph we realized something else.

It was on the wall upside down.

That led to a rash decision:

I told you that 10" inch offset toilet was sitting was sitting on a 14" offset.
See how its creeping into the middle of the room towards the bathtub?

It went.

It may not seem like much of an epiphany, but it was certainly cathartic taking it down.   But now the bathroom, well, it seems workable in the short term.

Now the bathroom floor (1950s) actually matches the shower curtain, in the blue/teal/blue color pallet.  The towels were just thrown up because they matched the blues in the wall paper, so yes, they are a hot mess.  And ignore the clutter.  I know it's a mess.

The lower walls are crappy old white subway tiles - but wait - that are actually gross and started to brown because in the Maryland humidity and heat, the little hairline cracks that formed in them over the last 80 years allowed moisture into the base ceramic turning them a mottled tan.  So someone painted them white, which is actually a good thing.

And the clutter is just because junk gets piled in a room that no one wants to "own".  So look beyond that.

Anyhow, Husband and I have thought about it and here is the game plan, both short term and long range:

Short term:

1) Do an immediate replacement of the toilet.

2) Do a replacement of the vanity to a euro-styled basic one after Christmas.  

3) Strip the dried wallpaper paste and paint the walls a light shade of the darkest shade of blue in the floor.

4) Repaint the tiles WHITE.

Long range:

In two years look at the finances.  If they are rosey and the kitchen isn't going to break the bank, then go whole hog and extend the wall out six foot and redo the bathroom.

If the kitchen breaks the bank, scale the bathroom back.

BUT if we do bump out the wall six feet so its over the breakfast room, then we'll also bump out the wall on our walk in closet six feet, and relocate the master bath to the larger space created by the extra 30 square feet in the closet - which is already enormous, and then convert the current cramped master bath into the new walk in closet.  And because the relocated bath would share the same stack and plumbing, the cost of moving the master bath is minimized.


Frankly the idea of getting the master bath to the back of the house makes me really happy because right now there is a big old window in the current bath smack over the front door.  Turn on the light and with the blinds closed everyone knows someone is in the bathroom because its in the middle of the freaking house.

So tomorrow I will spend the day measuring, and pricing toilets, vanities, lights and sketching.

But a new toilet is coming to live with us sooner rather than later.   Because regardless of what we do, when we do it, we all need to crap in the present.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The new House: An update

Slowly but surely the new house is moving from being the home of two 85 year old Quakers into a house fit for Cookie and The Husband.

The husband and I were sitting in the second floor bathroom - which is literally the smallest room in the house wondering how these people ever raised FOUR children with a second floor bathroom the size of a handicap stall.

It's a small room to begin with, but making it even smaller is the GI-NORMOUS bath tub with is very narrow but also very long.  Think Abraham Lincoln sized bathtub.  To modernize this, elderly couple paid Bath Fitting gawd knows how much to come in and update their bath tub.  Big mistake.  The key to bath fitter in that mold a sort of plastic condom that get dropped over the tub.  When they did this, they created a one foot lip that one has to hurdle to get into said tub.  And because the tub walls are so high and narrow, getting out is chore.  

Adding to this oversized tub is the 10" toilet (measured from the mid point of the discharge pipe to the point where the wall should be) sitting on a 14" offset waste pipe.  This places the toilet in the middle of the bathroom with four inches of space behind the tank.  When you sit on our pot your knees jam into the tub.

Then there is the sink and the sink base.  The sink base is 30", which is too large for the room.  The vanity top is (and you have to say this the way Gloria Grahame spoke to Jack Palance in Sudden Fear)  "cul-chured mahble"  Again, this doesn't fit snug to the wall.

Add in bad lighting (pull chain light over the sink and a ceiling fan light), and two windows, and 1950s blue tile floor and you have my nightmare.  Oh, wait; I forgot; yellowing wall paper that is peeling.

Now I have three ideas for spending my husbands money to fix this:

The more expensive alternative is extend the bathroom out six feet (which would take it out over the breakfast room) and redo the place with new tile, tub, toilet and sink.  This would eliminate one window while making the other window larger.  Approximate cost $38,000. Our realtor is pulling for this because when we do decide to sell, this will be one of the "sexy" things that they can feature.

The less expensive alternative is keep the same foot print, remove the tub and replace it was something modern, new tile, toilet and smaller vanity and better lighting.  Approximate $10,000.

And the el-cheapo route is keep the tub as is, replace the vanity with a euro-styled one and the toilet.  Approximate cost $1,000.

Doing nothing is not an option, because the room is beyond foul.

Thankfully it's not the only bathroom, just the worst.

your thoughts?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

When Ants and an Aunt experience death, slowly, for their "own" sake.

There is no way to beat around the bush, so I'll just get this out: we have ants.

Gawd I hate the bastards.

And these are a different type of ant than the old fashion ants.  The are "crazy" ants.  You know how regular ants form a line from the nest to the food source?  Well with crazy ants - and I am being totally serious - they just scurry wherever their bodies will take them.  No rhyme or reason.

According to the pest company, the other problem with crazy ants is that they will swarm.

Now I keep a clean house, so these crazy ants are driving me insane. And not even Terro - my standard fall back for ant issues - will work here.

Enter the pest company.

In Ohio we had to call on a pest company twice in 30 years.

In the hot and sweaty mid-Atlantic, its an annual thing.  If it too wet out, the ants want to be dry.  If it too wet out, the ants want inside to find moisture.  Like your Jewish mother, they are never happy.

So out comes the Pest Company and the guy who owns it is a talker.  Jesus.  Yap, yap, yap.  And because you have to stay with them during the instruction, this guy is yap, yap, yap.  "Great house, going finish this basement, they don't build them like they used to, my mother would have loved a big kitchen like this, yap, yap, yap."

So I ask him if what he is putting down is going to kill these sons of bitches and he says:  "Well, they are going to track through this, and they are going to carry it back to the nest, and after a couple days their nest mates are going to feel so great, and the next day, a little worse, and the next..."

"Dead?" I ask hopefully.

"Well you want a long term kill, and with new ants hatching you want the colony to get sick, then collapse..."

And I am like "Whoa,"

And he's like "Huh?"

And I'm like "Flashback..."

And then he says "Acid will do that to you..."

I've never done acid, but the flash back was very real.

About 20 years ago, my Uncle Lou died.  Uncle Lou was our favorite Uncle because everything he did was magical.  He had married one of my father's sisters, made a fortune, then made a bigger one, but they had never had any children, so he doted on us.

Back in the 1960s, his house a top Bel Air had push button everything when no one else's house had push button anything.

My mother saw a keypad next to my aunt and uncles bed in the 1950s and asked what it was for.

"This," my aunt Betty said pointing to the red button controls "operates every light in the house.  The blue buttons are the intercom to every room in the house.  I can even open and close the garage door from here."  This, was James Bond super agent coolness.

But as he got older, this grew tough for him and Betty.  Betty died, and then he married Betty's sister (and my father's sister) Evelyn who had been widowed for decades.  And the two of them lived in the Bel Air House overlooking Los Angeles.  But Lou's health kept getting worse, and one day I got the call.

"Lou's dead," said my father.

So I asked when the funeral was and my yappy stepmonster gets on the extension and says that Aunt "Evelyn wants him buried in California."

"But Aunt Betty is buried here, in Ohio."

"Yes, but we told Evelyn we thought it was a good idea for him to be buried out there."

They thought it was a good idea for him not to be buried with my Aunt Betty?  He met her when they were five, and they were inseparable for the next 70 years, and Stepmonster thinks it would be a better idea for him to be buried 3,000 miles away?

"Why is this such a good idea?"

"Well," my father starts, "your Aunt Nan doesn't know he's dead, and were not going to tell her right away."

Nan was my father's other surviving sister.  A little bit screwy, but, that was Nan.  And Nan and Betty and Evelyn had all been close to one and other.  But my stepmother, not wanting to deal with high drama, decided that not telling her was the bets tact to take.

I pointed out that Nan was going to find out.  And she was going be hurt, and pissed.

"We think the best way to tell her is to tell her that Lou caught a cold, and week later we'll tell her that he's still feeling not so great.  And then we'll let he know that he's get checked out at the hospital, maybe a fever will set in.  Then we'll let he know that he's in the hospital.  Little by little and then he'll pass away."

Hold it.  "You're going to make him suffer, in theory, and make her worry about him and..."

"It'll be easier on her."

Lying to her?

"Don't accuse me of being a liar, Cookie."

I didn't need to accuse her of that.  We know she was liar.  She was also a whore.  But this was beyond was cruel.

And Nan didn't take it well.  In fact she worried that Lou was on the way out and wanted to fly to California to visit him.  That lead to me lies, and then Lou didn't "die".  He got better to so they could head Nan's off from a trip.  Meanwhile, Evelyn had been told that Nan was too busy to speak with her.  So I have one Aunt mourning the loss of her husband, and another Aunt who had no idea that he beloved brother in law - Mr. Wonderful as she used to call him - had been dead six weeks.

When the charade of the slow painful death came apart, so did Nan's will to live.  A month later, she was dead, too.

And now, my ants were going to endure a slow painful death instead of a merciful colony execution.

All I want is for the ants to go, and quickly.

But now I live with the guilty knowledge that today they feel a little off, and tomorrow, they'll feel a little bit worse and so forth and so on.

Would they, like my Aunt Nan, be told of an expected rally to stave off the inevitable.  Or would they, in their little ant way, call out for Doctor Kevorkian like Aunt Nan did as she sped towards her ending, hoping not to linger as Uncle Lou had, and Unlce Lou had not.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I am having another one of my sick headaches... with the family in Massachusetts.

These trips are killing me.  They are starting to take a toll, I tell you.

Mostly we get here, eat a ton of junk (food is our medication of choice here in Wellesley) and we sit around and wait.

Serious, Godot will be here soon, I am sure.

MIL continues that long, slow voyage into the twilight of reality.   And now that she is in a home, our visits are essentially the same:

Mom: "When did you get here?"
Us: "We got into today."
Mom: "I know you both."
Us: "Yes, you do."
Mom: "When did you get here?

Tomorrow is her birthday, so we'll have lunch together, then we'll come back home.

But it's the sitting around driving me crazy.   There are only so many times you can go to the mall.  Or the grocery store.  Or the hardware store, with suspicions being raised along with some eyebrows.

Lots of people have invited us to see their homes when we are here, but the thing is - when you are staying with family, you "STAY" with the family.   You stay, and clock slows down to a c-r-a-w-l.

But I love the husband and I am his moral support.  So my place is by his side, simmering.  And good lucking wrestling TV remote away from the "Flipper-In-Law".

I do, however, get to use the many favors that I am accruing by sitting here.  Like getting to pick where we eat.

So here I sit, getting my sick headaches.  Counting the hours until we return to home, and the next dinner meal.

Here's hoping the clock starts running faster and clear traffic tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What fresh Hell have we signed on for...

Cookie is not having buyers remorse, but it is quite clear that the new house is a bigger project than we thought.

But first of all, let's address these two idiots in the illustration.  They are painting metal kitchen cabinets without a drop cloth.  Fools.  Those metal cabinets need to be sprayed, not brush painted.  And they must have been drinking because no one is that happy to paint metal kitchen cabinets.

Back to the real world.  Anyway, as I was saying is that there seems to be a great deal more to do at the new house than we thought.

Cookie can work with electric and wire with the best of them.  I am respectful of the power of the bus bar.

Cookie can also sweat copper pipes with the best of them, but I don't mess with gas pipe, because Mama didn't raise no fool.

But Cookie has run into things in the new house.  Things that have required, dare I say it: PROFESSIONALS.

Mostly its been with the electric.

The previous owner was a retired electrical engineer, and he "dabbled" in "projects".  That right there tells you that nothing is connected in a logical fashion.

So when it came time to install the fabulous 1950s pierced saucer lamp that I have been schlepping around for the past 20 years in a box until I found the right room, I called in the professionals.  At first even they were perplexed by what they found.  When they started removing ceramic wire connections, I poured myself a drink and let them have at it.

In any event, I didn't have $250 to pay them, but it was worth the money.  The 1950s saucer lamp looks boffo.  And the Ikea light that we bought $20 looks boffo in the kitchen, too.  So much better than that yellowed fluorescent nightmare from the 1980s.

Still, I am worried about other electrical issues.  Like four way switches that date to 1928.  We have lots of them, and they are not a fast fix.  These I can handle.  But the electrician is coming back in a couple weeks to work on some other core issues, which include some scarey outlets with strange plugs.

Then there is the BLOB in the back yard.  There is a section of yard, that is mostly swampy, that has become a blob of think, very tall, grasses. How thick?  You would expect to find the baby Moses floating by in a casket.  Anyhow cat has made a den in the bullrushes, so to speak and the dogs have been driven absolutely crazy mad.  Poor Kevin went into the blob the other night to get said cat, and we had a serious time freeing him from it.  Next week I am taking a scythe to the mess and chopping it down.

Until next time, send positive karma to me.  If you happen to see Holmes on Homes, or Yard Crashers or Bath Crashers or Kitchen Crashers, send them our way as well.

Cookie needs the help...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Belle Watling's lights live here and some chainmail that doesn't.

This is the dining room light that came with the new house.  It has two matching sconces.   I think that they're a little too Belle Watling for our tastes.  The husband agrees.  But our tastes are expensive when it comes to lighting, and replacing these lights isn't in the immediate budget, so I guess we have to live with them.

I suggested to the husband that we paint the Dining Room red in their honor.  He's afraid that people would talk.

When I mentioned "Belle Watling" to a down the street neighbor—she, who is in her 30's—said "who?"

"You know, Ona Munson?"

"Own a Munson?  Munson is the name of the company that made that light?" she replied.

And something inside of me died, just a bit.   I explained the Gone With the Wind reference, and still it and the sarcasm didn't register.  The only feedback was the sound of crickets outdoors, and a bit more of me died.  It's a bitch growing old.

The lights hadn't been cleaned since LBJ was in the office.  The pendants were brown with cigarette tar, and most of them were handed to us in a box, chipped and their wires broken. The ones that remained on the fixture were fragile.  Just lifting them from the fixture caused most of the remaining wires to snap.  The lighting store wanted $10 a "dangle" to restring them.

"You could do them yourself a whole lot cheaper," said the man.

I thought about this.  Spend $400 to have him string these damned things, or spend $10 on a role of wire and do it myself.  What to do, what to do.

So I went to Joann Fabrics and Crafts and went looking for wire.  Jesus, they have a lot crap in those stores, and most of what they have you can add glitter too, if you choose.

Finally, having no luck, I found an employee, a young woman, who seemed to pulsing off a dykadelic vibe.   I asked her where they kept the wire.

"For crafting chainmail, I recommend something sturdier.  If you are repairing your existing chainmail..."

"I'm restringing crystals for a chandelier," I replied.

" the floral department."  She looked crestfallen that I was not crafting chainmail.

Someone asked what I was wearing when this occurred.

"Tee shirt, cargo shorts and birkenstocks."

"Well," if I saw a womyn wearing that, then I would have gone with chainmail," said Friend.  "But you never know.  It must have been the Birks.  They are so out of date."

"AND," she added, "Ren Fair is coming up, so if you were going to be letting your last years chainmail out, now would be the time to do it."

Anyway, the Chandelier is clean, the bulbs save one, have all been replaced with LED bulbs.  Now I am off to Home Depot to find that last bulb. I will try not to look too dykadelic myself lest I mislead people again.

Still, I am now all sparkly, pleased as punch that at least its clean and not one piece of chainmail or Glitter was used to make it all work.


Monday, August 17, 2015

The Kabuki Theater of Real Estate, part duex."..

And then this realtor showed up, and she felt the house was over priced and under decorated. we go again.

The Kabuki Theater of Real Estate production "The Seller's House" is set to begin.  Having found ourselves with two houses, we must now sell one of them.  And it won't be the new house, thats for damned sure.

So the husband and I have been cleaning the old hours - and reader, let me tell you, it is immaculate.  Nay, it is in eat off the floor condition, and staged to sell.

Speaking of eating off the floor, thats pretty much what we have been doing since the Agent requested that we leave the dining room table in the house for the staging.  Thank God for inflatable beds, otherwise we'd be sleeping on the floor, too in the new house.

The front door has been painted Sherwin Williams "JUNGLE RED" which is the same shade of red that you would find on Mary Harris' nails.

So the stage is ready and the first two scenarios have played out.

FIRST UP we had the brokers open house, which is unadvertised to the public, but the public can attend.  This is the place in the plot where the brokers leave their comments.  Six of the ten brokers said that the house had major curb appeal, was dated, but fairly priced.  Three of the brokers felt the house was charming, but only had one full bathroom, and would sell for 15k to 20k under what we priced it at.

THEN there was this chick, at the top of the page.  The tenth realtor hauled her fat ass into the house buy driving his Hummer into the driveway and bitching the whole way in about the lack of a wide enough driveway for Hummer, so a little bird (my neighbor Julianne over heard from her deck) tells us.

The comments from this realtor were actually comical:

"I can't see bringing any of my clients to this house unless the deficiencies noted below are fixed.  My clients are important people and their time is valuable."

 The deficiencies that this realtor wants corrected are: Enlarged kitchen added.  Brand new bathrooms, preferably in marble. Restain the hardwood floors dark.  Remove the large tree in the back yard; too shady."

My reaction to her comments.

Seriously?   I  mean what the fuck?

The end of her comments are almost commical.  After all that work, Ms. Real Estate Ball-Buster has the unmitigated gall to state that even after all those changes to the house, then the selling price would be $60k less than what we have it priced at.  She wants $100k of work done, and then the priced dropped.   And we priced our home $100,000 under the last home that sold in the neighborhood because it's smaller and needs modernization.  It's a modest house, with a modest price.

"What crawled up her ass and died?" I asked the agent.

"She's very demanding," replies the agent.  "She's also full of shit."

SECOND UP is our first open house, which has us both on edge.  I have never known a house to sell from an open house, except ours in the new house.  So stranger things can happen.

Just so long as the Ball-Busting agent doesn't return and demand that we hari-kari ourselves over the prices.

Its going to be a long few weeks reader.  A long few weeks...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Something that I just have to share...

This comes from the one and only Baikinage Overkill, the great one herself, so I can't even claim that I found it in my treasure trove, aka, the retirement fund, of art magazines that live in plastic tubs in our basement waiting to be sold as gay ephemera when they turn 50.

What I love about this is it is at once "undetectable", much like they claim Depends are, and yet it is designed to draw attention to one's, assets.   PLUS it advertises a bigger male "package" for just a few more kopeks more.

Wouldn't a low fat diet and some exercise be just as effective?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bill went there, instead of here.

Bill certainly did.

But the Credit Card Bill should have come here, to the new house.

Instead it got returned to the credit card issuer who gave me a nasty little call.

"This is Miss Jones with Credit Card.  May I speak with Cookie?"

"How do I know you are my credit card company?  You could be 'Rachel, from card member services.'"

Miss Jones asked me for the last four of my social security number, and I instead asked for her last four numbers.

"Mr. Cookie, why would I give you that?"

"You called me, YOU need to give me something to prove that you are who you say you are."

Finally, I just told her that I had a previous bill, and that I was ending this call and would call the credit card people myself.

So I did.  And after giving them the last four of my social security number, I said that I had received a call from Miss Jones.

"Do you know which Miss Jones you spoke with?"

No.  The bitch called me and started demanding information about my returned credit card statement.

So after giving them my "mother's maiden name" (which I made up as Snagglepuss, because anyone can get that stuff off, we finally got to the issue.  They had to have a FAX from my with my new address.

That I can do.

Then they wanted a payment because I was past due because instead of allowing the Post Office to forward my credit card bill, it bounced back to them.

So yes, Bill went there.  And next month bill is coming here, where it should.

Friday, July 31, 2015

A new house, an old house, and midget who is a prick

Our Crepe Myrtle is lovely, but will be removed when we build a driveway and garage.  by the way, this is just one half of our new back yard. 

So, what has Cookie been up to these last two weeks? 

Well, we moved. 

We have left Tudor Cottage cozy for Dutch Colonial Center Hall granduer.

First the new house, which is substantially larger than the old house.  Everything is in the new house, although about half remains boxed up.  We had the locks changed because at the closing the out going owners handed us about twenty sets of keys, and they couldn't be sure that these were all the keys.  Each set contained anywhere between two and three keys per door, excluding the storm doors. The only thing that we didn't get was a pore key (obscure Green Acres reference) and the pad lock to the shed.  I guess at Contentment Gardens, their new retirement community, a pad lock is called for.  

The dogs are still a bit freaked out and very edging.  The scare quite easily in the new house and the boxes have them a a bit confused.  I say in a month, once the fence is completed in the back yard, they should start coming around. 

The old house, Tudor Cottage, is still an albatross around our necks.  Neither of us wants to go there and work on it, but this is crunch weekend with yard work and the final painting.  The kitchen is primed, but we have to get it painted "Agreeable Gray", a Sherwin Williams color that everyone agrees is lovely.  

I will say this - Cookie loves houses and becomes very sentimental about them.  But Tudor Cottage is a place that I never bonded to, and for that matter miss.  Indeed I walk in and immediately my inner voice says "ugh."  It seemed like a prudent thing to buy, but in the end, it "just didn't work for us."

Today I am home - fuming.  We hired an electrician to deliver more power to our second floor.  I had used him before and he seemed nice, albeit a midget.  Yes, he's a midget.  Well my idea of a midget.  He's about five feet tall, maybe 4'11".  A cocky little bastard.  But he shows up on time and doesn't gouge you.   Mr. Midget Electricians: "No job too big, and every job small priced."

Well, he turned into a massive prick today when he dropped the ball on the project we needed done and was supposed to be finished today.   This was a job that I didn't want to start on a Friday, because you know it's going to drag into Saturday then Monday and....  He promised me that his guys could get this done in a day. 

At noon today, guy one comes in and tells me that he doesn't have the right ladders and equipment to do the heavy duty line to the second floor and the third floor.   So I call Mr. Midget and ask if I get anything off for the inconvenience.  

Mr. Midget says he doesn't understand.  

I explain to Mr. Midget that because he didn't get his guys here first thing this morning that the work won't be finished, and that delays us in getting our offices set up.  PLUS, I shelled out a days wage for the dogs to go to daycare because he told us the night before he would be here first thing on Friday morning. 

"I don't recall saying that," says the little prince.

I do and it is in your text to me, along with me asking if it might not be better to start this on a Monday, and he said no, his crew would "just need one day."

"Look," says Mr. Midget, "I can pull my guys out of there right this minute if you are going think you are getting something for nothing."

And this is when Mr. Midget became a huge prick. 

We need this done, I just told him "fine," but added that I was not happy.  And he hangs up the phone in my ear.  Evidently Tom Thumb is a prick.  

Monday this will be done, and I will have electric, but he will always be a small, small man.  

And like I told the husband we just need him to get the job done.  And his people do beautiful work. 

Still, there is a part of me that wants to channel Dorothy Parker and say "With this crown of thorns I wear, why should I worry about a little prick like you."

Now, I need a nap. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Honey, the abomination is how you dress...

Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk of Courts Kim Davis has been in the news because she refuses to issue a marriage license to same sex couples.  Davis, a relative newcomer to office (sworn in January, 2015) believes in the Bible and only supports marriage between a man and a woman.

She feels that between two men or two women, it's an abomination.

Davis also doesn't like to make public appearances.  There is little doubt as to her reasons, but we can start with her hair, her glasses and her dress.  Make that her *sun* dress which she pairs with a perky gray long sleeve top.

Yes, Ms. Davis, your appearance is an abomination.

And then there is that pole of Jesus stuck up her ass. Doesn't do a thing for her posture, just makes her feel superior.

Now Ms. Davis, I think with a little help, and a little EFFORT you too can look PROFESSIONAL.

Just work with me, people. 

See, if we slap her head on a plus size model, because she looks like a plus size girl, slap some semi tailored clothes on her that didn't come from Wal-Mart, do something with that hair, she might feel a bit better about herself.  And people who feel good about themselves want others to feel good, too.  

Remember folks:  "Hurt" people hurt "people".   

Look, Cookie doesn't even know how to operate Photoshop, but my point is that she isn't a lost cause, she just doesn't feel pretty.

And come Monday when a Federal Judge orders her to start issuing licenses or be held in contempt of court, just might be being dressed by the county sheriff and discover that Orange is the new black.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

On schedule for the packing, mostly.

Well, the husband and I are on schedule with the packing for the move, mostly.  When packing for a move you have to be careful that you don't pack too much too soon or you'll find yourself unpacking what you have packed because you need something.

Nothing worse than needing something important, only you can't find it so you start unpacking what you just packed.  Or WORSE, and you go buy what you can't find, then you have two items when you only need one.

Yesterday was basement day, and I'll say that about 80% of the basement is packed and ready to go, more or less.  We did some culling - emphasis on "some".

Today was the garage.  Since the new house doesn't have a garage, but it does has a very large shed, a lot of what is in the garage that isn't garage stuff, is going to the new basement, which can absorb it, no problem.

We were a bit more ruthless in the garage.  My junior high school art projects went into the trash heap.  The pile of antiquated and broken yard tools joined the art projects.  The mummified squirrel who go itself trapped in the garage when we sealed up the big ass holes up by the soffit?  He too is in a better place and has joined my art work and the broken tools.

The husband wanted to bury it, but I pointed out that the new owners wouldn't visit his little grave as they never knew him as we did - a moldering carcass in the corner that cause two adult men in their fifties squeal like two teenage girls.

I will have you know that I was the one who put on the Big Girl Panties (this is figurative, mind you, not literal) and scooped up said mummified squirrel (with a shovel, of course) and dropped him in the contractor bag.

For those of you who have never seen a contractor bag, it's like a black plastic garbage bag, only heavier, but not like a body bag that Quincy* would unzip and look at a victim and then zip back up and solve the crime.  So it was fitting that squirrel went into it.

Then I became appalled, because my ancestors ate squirrel.  My mother remembers eating squirrel during the depression, until my great grandmother found out.  Great grandma was a farm wife, and they were mostly broke, too.  Then my great grandfather died and my great grandmother's cousin in Columbus introduced her to one of her husband's lodge friends and that man married great grandmother.  He had money, even in the depression, so when great grandmother found out that the family had been covering and eating squirrel, she sent her driver (yes, in the Depression) up home with weekly veal shipments.  Yes!  Veal!


Because in the depression, veal was less expensive than chicken.  And get this - my grandmother would make something out of veal called "City Chicken", which was veal cubed up to look like chicken.

Now look what I have done - gone and made myself hungry for veal.

Don't look at me that way.  Eating veal is the sacrifice we make so that children can get all that milk that they drink.  Besides, I only eat free range veal.  I am a meat eater because it tastes good.  But I won't eat veal if if it was raised in cage.  I am not a monster.  Well, not that often, at least.

Anyway, my point was when I started was to tell you that we are on schedule for the move.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go and pack some more.

* For those of you too young to remember, Quincy was the proto-Medical Examiner who also solved crimes.   Before their was CSI, their was Quincy, who looked and sounded like Jack Klugman, who was married to the absolutely divine and foul mouthed Brett Sommers.  Don't believe me?  Well fuck you and the horse you rode in on, then. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The one in which I tell the realtor to grow some balls.

Well, we are on the road to closing on the new house, mid-month, and today, the husband brought home 75 boxes for packing.  People, this shit just got real.

Up until yesterday, however, things were in flux.

We had our house inspection and we found most of the usual things that you find in a house approach 90 years old.  Old termite damage that was fixed when Eisenhower was in office, a few outlets with reversed polarity, sloppy caulk (and I hate that) around the shower, squeaky get the idea.

But we also found something unpleasant.

The first floor half-bath had a badly cracked waste pipe vent right under the toilet and the pipe elbow was leaking.

Now to me and the Husband, this was a must fix on the part of the seller, because raw sewage is gross, a vector for disease and sewer gas not only can kill you, but it can explode.

So we submitted our issues (fix the cracked vent and replace the bad joint) and we waited.  The "Seller" (aka Doug and Audrey) said they needed another week to get estimates.  So like Dante we were parked in (moving) purgatory.  We were damned if we started packing, and damned if we didn't.

Like good buyers, we didn't push - let them take their time and do it well, and then Tuesday we get their response.

The would fix this, and fix that, and reroute this and that to conform to building code, however they didn't think that the sewer line was anything they wanted going on around them.


So the realtor called us and said, hopefully, "Well?"

Shall we say that I conveyed to the realtor that all this other little shit was nice, but the sewer was non-negotiable.

"Well, let me see what I can do with their realtor."

Good enough.

Well, the next day I get a call while I am working at the Beef House Strip Club in the gift shop, and my cell phone rings.  I am not to be on my cell phone per Corporate, but it was our realtor so I took the call.

He starts out saying the sellers feel that...and that they really don't want to deal with the mess...and since we all know each other socially, its only going to be a $2,000 repair and do we want to throw a monkey wrench in the deal over such a paltry sum...

And reader, my limit had been reached.

I told realtor, that this was a business deal and not a friendly game of cards.  I reminded him that Seller - no longer Doug and Audrey, but "Seller" - got not only their asking price BUT a couple grand over their asking price.  I reminded him him that Seller tinkered for a WEEK extra getting estimates, and out of everything on the list, that this was the one that is a health issue.

"Well, what if they gave you $500 towards fixing this..."

And I said "Bob, grow some balls."  Go to their agent and tell them that we will pull the deal if that sewer line isn't fixed, and then you tell her that if they don't fix that sewer line and we pull out we get our good faith money back, they have to start from square one. And they will have to fix said problem now that they have been made away of it  No skin off our nose.  "You and I and the husband will find us another house with a better commission for you.  But seriously, dick's out and balls on the table this is a non-negotiable."

"Wow, you seem intent on this."  Think so? Uh, yeah.

So, yesterday we get the Seller's response.  They will fix the sewer, all costs, and that includes the foundation work.  In turn, we, the buyer will agree to pick up $500 of the little shit repairs.


To me, the crapper being in sanitary condition was the point.  And the little shit?  $500 I can swallow.  
And our realtor did grow some balls.  One day I hope to see them in the flesh.  

But as the Husband pointed out, could we have set our selves up for a major karma backlash?  Could be.  But generally, I expect the buyer of this house to want a house in good condition.  That's just the nature of the beast.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marriage, John Robert's silly question, and Bristol Palin's Vagina

So, last week was one for the books.  I know, y'all are happy for everyone.  We can now discard "Same Sex Marriage" and just call it what it is, "Marriage".  I am all for making things simple.  Me and Martha Stewart - and I can't wait for her book on how to throw a reception for two guys or two girls - are on the same wave length.  Just like twin sisters, except I am the younger of the two of us by a couple decades.

Anyhow, I am happy, except Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who wrote in his dissent:

“The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs.”

Immediately thereafter, he asked the silliest rhetorical question, ever: “Just who do we think we are?

To which I answer in the common sense fashion possible: We are AMERICANS, you meathead.

And Americans seldom do the easiest things to do, but we chart our own course and we are no one's second fiddle.  Given the chance to have our own King, or elect a leader we said no to the former and yes to the later.  No one had done that before in modern world.

Well, I guess if Justice Roberts had been there, we would have had a King (or at least an Emperor or some such), because that's what the Franks, the Holy Roman Empire and the French had.

I really want to sit down and have a drink with Roberts so we can discuss this.  Because it really was a stupid move on his part.

I have no qualms about honoring other cultures, and weaving the best from them into this great land of ours. But my mother's ancestors did not fight in the American Revolution against the most powerful army of its day and beat the shit out of the British so we could define our social structure according to Kalahari Bushmen.  Oh, hell no.

And did my father's parents leave "The Old Country" and come to America because it was just like the Han Chinese culture?  Seriously?  No, they came here because it was a beacon of freedom for all people, even for Europe's favorite punching bag: the Jews.  They could have to China, but they Cleveland was a smarter way to go.

Heck, how great are we?  We make up with our sworn enemies.  I love the United Kingdom, and the Queen's handbag collection.  English skally boys?  Amusing tricks, I say.  Bangers and mash?  Get enough Guinness in me and anything is possible.

Nor did we do so to honor the Han Chinese, or God forbid the Aztecs.  Hell, had we followed the Aztec model we would still be part of the United Kingdom because we would have just stood by while the British did whatever they wanted to do.

And the Carthaginians?  They were wiped from the face of the earth when they tried to spank down the Romans with elephants for God's sake.

So I don't know who or what John Roberts thinks he is, but the rest of us know that none of us are equal until all of us are equal.

Let me leave you with my favorite moment, which came from the "Chat" section of the Louisville, Kentucky newspaper's coverage of Bristol Palin's latest plight, her SECOND pregnancy without benefit of marriage.  Why do I read the "chat section and message boards"?   Because you never know what the great unwashed will say.  So I give you THIS:


Now that is an opinion I can get behind.  No qualms or fussy rhetorical questions.  Just good old common sense.  Now, chew on that, John Roberts.

So, y'all have a blessed day, y'hear?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Kabuki Theater of Real Estate

We have the Seller, the Buyer and the Agent.  Their roles are set and cannot be broken, lest "things" go awry. 

If you have ever bought a house, in the traditional sense, in the United States, you know that it is not a matter of looking up house, visiting, asking the seller what the prices is, taking out your credit card and buying said house.

No, buying a house is a more white knuckle transaction that involves going to showings, touring through your hosts home, judging their sense of color and decorations, talking about this funny scent or that ugly light and then fuming that the home of your dreams is most likely beyond your purse.

When you do find "the" house, then you enter into a formal ceremony that can last 24 hours or up to two months while the offer is issued on a presented contract, and is either refused with a huff, or silence, haggled over, or - it you are lucky - accepted, but with conditions.

This is a first act of The Kabuki Theater of Real Estate.

In this theater, each person has a role to play.  You have the seller who wants to get rid of said house at the highest price, you have the buyer who want to buy said house at the lowest possible price, and the real estate agent who just worries that something will get in the way of his or her commission.  In certain cases, there may be TWO agents.

After accepting the offer, certain things must happen.  Like Kabuki Theater, there are rules, and if the rules are broken, and tradition is left to wither, unspeakable things can happen.

Chief among these protocols is the tradition that the buyer and seller do not interact directly while the house is "in contract".  Not only that, but if they have to interact, the "action" is always indirect, and through the respective real estate agent - He (or She) is the gatekeeper of communication.  Messages go up, and then they are transmitted back down.  But the agent controls the conversation.   If there are two agents, then they converse with each other, but the seller agent NEVER contacts the buyers agent for any reason, except when the buyer's agent has lost interest in the deal because its almost done.  

This is where we find ourselves.

Today was the Chimney inspection of the "new" old house.  Imagine my surprise when I went to said house to meet our agent and the inspector to find the owners at the house that they were not supposed to be at.   Just like a home showing, the property owner is not supposed to be there - its part of the veil of smoke and mirrors - when there is an inspection going on because if there is an issue, it could become an issue.

The owners were there.  With a plate of fudge brownies.

This cannot be.  Why?  BECAUSE!

In ancient Greek theater the action never takes place on the stage.  No the action takes place OFF stage, then the actors talk what allegedly about it on stage, after the chorus recounts the action.  But there is NO action on stage.  Oedipus does not seduce his mother on the stage.  They do not try and conceive a child.  Their infertility is discussed, but everyone keeps their clothes on because that is what tradition calls for.  Damnit.

However, there was Audrey sticking her head in the fireplace and looking up it with a flashlight saying "This is so silly to pay someone to do what I am doing for free..." and Doug holding out a platter inviting me and Realtor Bob to partake in some Fudgy Goodness.  "They're extra chewy," he promised.

Leaving with the chimney inspector we were talking on the sidewalk - after all I am paying his bill - and here comes Audrey, dressed in red plaids, and face covered in soot (looking like the opening act of a minstrel show) asking "well, are we going to be able to sell this house?"

Realtor Bob, who is adorkable, stumbled over the words found his footing and defty regained control over the situation.  "I'll send a copy to your agent," Audrey looked perplexed.  Remember, she hasn't bought a house since 1965.

Anyway, the chimney passed.  Next up is the home inspection.  Realtor Bob contacted the selling agent and suggested that the Doug and Audrey go out while the inspection is going on.

However, in the great tradition of Kabuki, who knows how this next act will play out.

Anyhow, a moving date has been selected and the Moving company chosen.  So we are going forward, even if forward means taking an unconventional and absurdist path.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sometimes, it isn't all about the bump out

I know that many of you have been wondering "What has Cookie been up to?"

WELL...the husband and have been in quite a tizzy wondering what is to become of us and this house we bought when we moved to Baltimore.  Simply put, it doesn't work for us.  Oh, it oozes charm, no doubt.  But for how we live, it doesn't work for us.

So last year, in an attempt to make the house work for us, we removed the nasty old sliding glass doors on our side porch and replaced them with French Doors.  We also removed the sliding "drive through window" that a previous owner installed, with French casements. We decided that this would be our new back door once we built the deck off the back of the house.

This past February were in the backyard while the dogs romped in the snow around our feet and I said, "Maybe instead of building the deck first, we should talk to an architect about getting the kitchen fixed."  Because the kitchen really needed a total make over.  Seriously.  It's tiny and it is cramped and it didn't work for us.

So we started interviewing architects:

- The first arrived with a silk scarf around his neck and reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright, in a bad way - the way in which the architect creates his vision and owners are left to adapt to his design, and not the other way.  Strike one.  Then he knew nothing about houses designed by the Small Homes Bureau of the American Institute of Architecture.  Strike two.  Then he kicked at our dog Kevin.  Strike three, and he was out.

- The second man seemed like a better fit, assured us that we could get what we wanted, but then proceeded to tell us what we wanted.

- The third architect came in and had us picture this, that and everything else.  We liked him.  When we got his bid, we couldn't afford him.

- The fourth firm we liked very much and we decided to hire them, but postponed the contract signing from after our California trip.

Just before we left for California, I found another house that was perfect for us.  Bigger - much bigger.  In Baltimore County.  But the husband didn't like that it was in a "Village" community, and I had to agree that the village was a tight fit compared to Wide Open Spaces where we live in Baltimore city.  I mean we are literally down the road from a County and Hunt Club, and I happen to like wide yards and leafy vistas.

Our plan for this house involved tearing down the kitchen and rebuilding it, and adding a bedroom above it.  Then we would have added in a bath and a half.  The laundry room would get moved from the basement to the second floor.  The hot water radiator system would get pulled and would be replaced with a all-season forced air system.  Price tag?  $150,000 to $200,000.

We could create the house of our dreams.  It is within reach.  Really.  Nothing hard about it.

Still, we weren't motivated to sign the papers with the architects.  Every day we talked about it, but moving forward with it just wasn't something that we felt was a priority.

A week ago last Saturday we were at the neighborhood progressive dinner and the neighborhood grandparents, Doug and Audrey came up to us and told us they were moving into assisted living.  Now in the eighties, Audrey is a little unstable on her feet and the stairs at their house around the block from our house are too much for her to navigate.

"You should buy our home," said Audrey.  And Audrey has been saying this for two years to us.

I explained we would love to, but that it was too expensive for our budget.   Audrey invited us to the open house the next day, said she would make us a good deal, winked and went on her way.

One the way home from grocery store, I said to the husband "So, you just want to run through their house and see what a house at the top of our budget looks like?

So we did.   It was much bigger than our house, with more land, more features, and FOUR bathrooms.  Now we have ONE bathroom in the house that does work for us.  They have FOUR freaking bathrooms.   More than two people can in their kitchen - by like 20.   And in the basement?  Not one pipe dangling from the ceiling.  Central air?  Sure.   And a DISHWASHER.

We thanked the realtor, left, got home, looked around and I looked at the husband and he looked at me and we both said "Let's call Bob," who is our neighborhood realtor, "and ask him what he thinks.
And Bob came over.

And we talked with Bob.

And Bob said "Look, you can do all the things you want to do to your house and because of the street you are on, I can't guarantee you can get your money out of it.   If you were on Doug and Audrey's street, you could."

And Bob was right.  Because their street isn't a main drag.

(And Bob has a sweet body.  Did I mention that?  Is it evil to objectify your real estate agent?  Discuss.)

And then we put in a low ball offer on Doug and Audrey's house.

And Doug and Audrey saw it was from us and agreed to the deal.

And it was that simple.

And that is the story of how we decided that it is better to move than bump out, and cheaper, too.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Snatch This Pebble From My Hand

So Cookie finds himself, and The Husband, in Los Angeles this week on a vacation/research trip that is equal parts both.  The husband humors Cookie's genealogy obsession, and Cookie in turn honors the Husband's desire to walk around gardens, famous and otherwise.  Together, we are a very easy going pair.

So Today, Cookie will trudge through the Huntington Library and Gardens, because the husband gave eight hours of effort towards Cookie's research on Wednesday.  It's a fair trade.

Yesterday, we were guests of the Los Angeles Public Library pouring over a private collection.  The visit was arranged months ago.

This leads me to mention an odd thing about the LA Public Library, Central Division.  They have a rare books and manuscript division.   But you wouldn't know it if you asked the librarians there.

My first visit to the department came in 1990s, about five years after the big fire.   I wanted to access the department because it held several one of a kind items I needed to look at for a project I was working on.  The man I was directed to, "Tom" actually refused to acknowledge that the items were in the collection.  "There is nothing in the collection that are not already in the authors published works.  I persisted - I wanted to see his notes, because as we all know, the notes hold the key to the methodology.

When I arrived at the library for the visit back then, I arrived, and I asked for directions to the rare book and manuscript division.

"I can't tell you where it is."

I explained that I had an appointment.  The person asked to see my ID and left the desk, made a call, came back and said, please wait here.  A man came and I was escorted to the department.  Score one for Cookie.

In 2012, we made the trip here again, and on a visit to the library, I asked again, preface it by saying "I don't have an appointment, and I know that one is needed, but isn't the rare books division around here?"

You would have thought that I had just asked to see Satan.  Her eyes got large as saucers and she defensively said "I can't tell you that."

Excuse me?

"You can't go there."  I explained I had no such intention.   I again asked if the division was nearby, and again I got a "You can't go there."  I again explained that I just wanted to get my bearings.  "I can't tell you."

And in 2013, we played this game AGAIN.

"I can't tell you that information."

This time I came prepared: "It's on the Third Floor of the Goodhue Building, isn't it?"

She was stunned.  Shocked, even!  "I can't confirm that."

Seriously?  Even though its on your web site, you can't confirm it.  Really?

At least in Kung Fu, the kid got a pebble for his trouble.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Could this be MJ's fate?

We hope not (but I couldn't find the female version, so just pretend...)

The spouse is always the last to know, part II

"You see Beverly," started Dr. Levine, "Jerry is sick, very sick.  Oh, he isn't ill in a way that you or I or any other normal person gets sick with the sniffles or the flu.  Jerry is mentally sick.  At some point in Jerry's life, he began to fetishize - the abnormal fixation on an inanimate object - on the feel of silky things that women enjoy wearing.  From there, his illness progressed to women's clothing, and from there to wearing women's clothing.  Perhaps Jerry had a childhood trauma that he buried deep inside his psyche."

"He and his parents have a strained relationship.  And his mother," I rotely explained, "is always meddling in our lives.  She second guesses all of Jerry's decisions on important life decisions."  

"I see.  Just as I suspected.  Now," Dr. Levine continued, "Jerry is unable to contain those thoughts.  He's going to need a great deal of treatment, and perhaps a stay in psychiatric hospital.  But what he needs now, more than ever is a sympathetic wife who understands that Jerry is a good man who can't help himself.  Beverly, can you be that wife?  Without you, Jerry may be lost to a life of depravity.  And your children could lose their father forever.  Is that what you want, Beverly?"