May 25, 2006

a couple more things

one of them being this picture, taken by Tom a couple weeks ago. I love how Sedona cocks her head when she's listening! (For a bit of background: We heard all the shelties "sing" at Sandy's house when we first picked Sedona out, and it was quite a haunting sound... ) Tom sometimes sings to Sedona, and tries to get her to sing back, but so far, no such luck.

and, I found a new challenge- the new puzzle craze called sudoku! (I may be a bit behind the times on this, but oh well.) Check it out here: It's deceptively simple- a grid of squares, 9 x 9, and you fill in the numbers so every 9-square section, every row, and every column contains the numbers 1 thru 9. The concept is simple, but the first (easy) puzzle I did took me over two hours- but, I was determined to finish it, and now I'm hooked!

So, now I'm off to finish some laundry and get out the Spot Shot floor cleaner (Phoebe is shedding, and her hairballs clash with the carpet).

a short update

So, the three-day weekend is almost here! the weeks definitely seem to fly by, don't they?? Tom is getting back late tonight from another "emergency" trip- he left Tuesday morning (he had to get up at 4:15 am, to catch a 6:40 am flight) for Connecticut again, to fix some issues left over from the computer upgrade he just did out there. Apparently the customer thought every issue they've ever had over the past 7 years would magically disappear with a computer upgrade... ??? whatever- anyway, he's on his way back, after a very hectic two days at the site.

I finally updated my picturetrail website with some new house pics, and some pics of our last trip to the Botanic Garden. Check out the New House and Desert Plants albums!!!

Other than that, nothing much is going on around here- One day earlier this week, it was much cooler (only in the high 80s for a daytime high, and lows in the 60s), but the 100+ degree weather is back again. I think now is about when it settles in and doesn't leave till fall. And Mom, you wanted to know- I just checked out, and there is a "negative" heat index again- temp 100 degrees, heat index 95 degrees. The wind blowing at is 8 mph... so, I'm not sure if it's the wind that does it, but I don't really care! (except that the wind serves to dry everything out that much more...)

We're looking forward to the three-day weekend... No big plans, really- we're going to celebrate my birthday by doing a couple things I've always wanted to do, which are miniature golf and bowling! I can't wait, actually- it should be a fun day!!! And, of course, we'll drive to Maricopa to check up on the house. We might take Sedona to Doggie Park sometime, too- we didn't last Sunday, and she seemed to know somehow that she was missing out- she acted up all morning! And, to carry on the Memorial Day/birthday tradition, I plan on grilling out, making Mom's coleslaw, and having angel food cake with strawberries. Oh, and I wouldn't mind checking out the (cheaper) Native American baskets, rugs, and/or baskets at the local swap meet. It sounds like we have a lot of plans, after all!!!

Have a fun and relaxing weekend!

May 18, 2006

recipe for disaster

- 103 degree weather

- 8% humidity

- 4:30 pm

- mostly sunny

- me driving my car

- open windows

- 1 Nestles Crunch ice cream bar

Can you picture it??? it was messy... my shorts and T-shirt are soaking in the wash right now! (update- most of it came out; there's still a tiny spot on the bottom hem of the t-shirt- and it was new, darn it! I've definitely learned my lesson!)

I drove to Maricopa right after work, to check on the house- couldn't contain myself and wait till this weekend... After talking to Tom for a while on the phone at the house, I headed back home... but, I decided to stop at the local CVS store to get a bottle of water, since it was hot out! And, the ice cream freezer was right next to the cooler... so, there you go. It was tasty, the part I got to eat- when it all started to go to heck and drip all over me, I tossed the rest of it out the window. ( I need to clean off a big ice cream smear on the side of my car, too!)

So, back to the house, and other stuff. Tom headed to Philadelphia yesterday for an emergency repair (the site had electrical damage from a lightning strike). He got everything fixed today, and will be flying back tomorrow evening. He was not figuring so much would get done so quickly on the house, so he was pleasantly surprised when I told him about the progress.

Progress such as: the electrical is all finished, the roof tiles are stacked on the roof, all the windows are in, and the exterior is clad in the styrofoam and chicken wire, ready to be stuccoed. And, if the frame inspection hasn't already happened, it should be soon, 'cause there were notations and cryptic messages written all over the floor, along with a barely legible (at least to me) list of things to do written on a scrap of corrugated cardboard tacked up in the garage. It's so exciting, and so trying to our patience, because we so badly want to move out of the apartment, but have to wait for it to be finished. Finishing it too fast might imply shoddy workmanship, but delays would be disappointing, too, so there's no happy medium.

Next comes drywall, after the roof tile settles the house. Apparently, this roof tile is so heavy that the tile needs to "settle" the house for a period of time before drywalling, otherwise the weight of the tile could crack the drywall.

in other news... I'm going in to work for a few hours tomorrow, and we'll probably watch the NASCAR race on TV later. The daytime high temperature is still above 100 F; there was a tiny chance of rain earlier this week, but we didn't get any of it. It's amazing how storms progress down here; it rained when we were at the local Wal-Mart (just enough to get the windshield dirty), but two blocks away, at home, it was sunny as it could be!

And of course, we'll probably drive to Maricopa so Tom can check out the house for himself... we'll take the camera, too, so look out for pictures soon!

May 14, 2006

it's done!

...choosing the appliances, anyway! Yesterday we picked out a refrigerator, washer, and dryer. We got a "package deal" with "locked in" prices... I felt a little like we were at a car dealership, not an appliance store. We decided to go with a front-loading washer- we've heard lots about them, water-savings being the major benefit, as well as larger capacity and a longer life for your clothes... 15-20 gallons of water per load vs. 50 gallons for a top-loading: a pretty persuasive argument, even with a higher initial cost.

We drove down to the house yesterday with our friend Mike Nejedly- he agreed to look over the house prior to the drywall being installed, to give his opinion on the framing. He feels they've done a pretty good job, which is nice to hear- someone actually in the trade, who knows what he's looking at with a more expert eye, giving it a thumbs-up.

I'm getting excited about doing the landscaping- Mike designed a beautiful desert landscape for his yard, and offered to help us do the same for ours- cactus, yucca, and agave for the yard, which will certainly have to include a saguaro cactus for the authentic desert feel! I don't know exactly how to plant them, but heavy gloves are sure to be in order...

We drove down again today, to check out some room dimensions and electrical wiring placement. Tom is going to do some additional electrical work after we move in, to add spotlights for the paintings, as well as possibly a ceiling fan and stereo speakers for the patio... it will be a bit tricky, since the ceilings are vaulted- not much attic space- but he thinks he can do it. We also found out that our closing date will probably not be in June, which is a bummer, but we'll have to just be patient.

After we got back, we grilled out and had a nice dinner... one of my co-workers is a very good cook, and he gave me his "secret-ingredient marinade" for chicken. I know it had fruit juice, lemons, limes, onions and garlic- I'll have to get him to tell me the rest of the recipe, so I can make it myself. His recipe called for marinating the chicken overnight, grilling it, then serving it topped with a slice of bacon, a roasted chili pepper, and a slice of white american cheese melted over the whole thing. It turned out great! We had the chicken, southwest mashed potatoes (out of a package, but still good), and fresh corn on the cob.

Sedona must have thought it would be good, too... Tom fixed himself a second plate, melting the cheese onto the chicken breast using the microwave. He sat down at the coffee table with his plate, went to change the channel on the TV, looked back at his plate, and there was no cheese, chili pepper, or bacon!!! Somehow, she made off with it in those few seconds- she got put to bed right away, for being bad; we let her out a little while ago. I think she might regret it now, though- she put herself back to bed a bit ago; maybe she has a stomach ache to pay her back for her thievery!

It was officially 105 F today, only 2 degrees away from the record set in 1927, and 12 degrees higher than normal for this date. It's definitely taking some getting used to; it saps my energy and makes me tired, and I am sure I don't drink enough water, although I'm trying to do better at it. It's sort of opposite from the Illinois weather, similar to winter in the midwest... keeping the windows shut, not spending much time outside, only going back and forth to the car. It's definitely different, too- a nighttime low in the mid-70s is normal now for here, where back there, that would be a pleasant daytime high! And, in the height of summer, the nighttime lows might only be in the 80s to 90s... but, it's a dry heat, after all- the humidity is probably only 7-10% which actually does help to make it not feel quite so hot.

May 07, 2006

house notes- quick!

A quick post, before the blogger site poops out on me again... I tried to do this yesterday, only to have it all disappear. Why do I never learn to save as I go??? Anyway, the scan on the left is of our sample board- samples of the tile and carpeting... a bit shadowy, but you can see the different flecks of color in the carpet (it got a bit squished in the scanner, though). The second image is courtesy of the Formica website... our countertop, the Jamocha granite color. It has the same colors in, along with darker tones that will tie in with the black appliances. And you can go here: for a look at the cabinets- oak cabinets, in the Chestnut finish, with a slight arch in the upper cabinet doors. (Click on "Signature Series" then click on "Kentwood Arch" to see the cabinet design.) It's one of the standard choices- nothing fancy there! I still can't wait to see it all installed; 2 x 2 inch samples and photos just aren't the same.

I drove to Maricopa on Saturday afternoon, to check out the progress on the house. The plumbing is in, as well as the HVAC ductwork, which is flexible insulated ductwork, different than the metal box-type used in the Midwest... it looks like a big mess of spaghetti snaking through the attic! The heating/cooling unit actually sits up in the attic; it's already been installed, too. Next comes the electrical- then, they have the framing inspection, before doing the insulation and drywall. Hopefully by next weekend they'll have the electrical done. Our friend Mike (who is retired from many years in the construction industry) has agreed to take a look at the place before they do the drywall, to give his expert opinion on the quality of the construction.

The wall in the backyard is also in; it's actually shared with the house behind ours, and they're farther along on that street... they had the hole dug for a pool in that yard, but since the wall is up, I can't tell how far along they are with it. Hopefully it won't be too noisy back there in the summer!

Construction is progressing all along our street, as well as the next one over- there were people moving in down the street, and the yards at the end of the street have finally been landscaped. It's nice to see it coming together (however slowly) as a "neighborhood" rather than just a construction site.

On the local front, the lady next door moved out yesterday, and I think the people upstairs are in the process... there are only two buildings (ours is one) that haven't been painted yet, and that is scheduled for next week. I'm not looking forward to that- the paint smell aside, it's just a disruption in things, having to move everything off the patio, and having the workers and equipment around outside for the dog to bark at.

May 06, 2006

a few spring pics

This is the only picture of Tom I managed to get on his skydive... it was only a matter of seconds between when I could recognize him, and when they landed.

Geranium blooms on our patio- taken February 15th. I think I got this geranium from Mom a couple years ago; I keep doing my best to kill it through neglect, but it still manages to grow and bloom- it's been blooming on and off since around Christmas... we'll see how it takes to the AZ summer; I may have to bring it inside in the kitchen (! yay! a real kitchen!) through the hottest weather, or make sure it's close to the house on the patio in the shade.

This is from the Botanical Gardens a couple weeks ago. These are Zebra butterflies on a Fairy Duster shrub. This was a special exhibit just for spring- butterflies loose inside a screen-house; they just fly around, sometimes landing on the people as they walk through! The only thing that disappointed me a little was that most of the species exhibited aren't native to AZ... I heard one of the volunteers saying that they got weekly deliveries of butterflies from Florida. Still, it was neat to see them so close up.

I think this is a great picture- I didn't crop it or adjust the colors at all. Tom managed to get some really good ones, although he did have to wait a while for the butterflies to stay still enough to photograph. The one on the left is a Queen (looks similar to a Monarch- fitting name, then, right?) and the one on the right is an Orange Julia.

May 01, 2006

house happenings-

Yes, it is actually a house!!! (the start of one, anyway!) Finally- and, we're told that they are still on target for a late-June close, if not sooner.

Our real estate agent got our hopes up the week before last, when she called and said they were framing our house... turns out they were framing the next door neighbor's house, and she wasn't couldn't get close enough to the house to be sure. But, it's finally moving forward!

Last weekend, we picked out our flooring, countertop, and appliances- we decided to do some upgrades on the flooring; we figured that would be a value-added thing to spend money on, especially since neither of us has any experience installing flooring. We upgraded from vinyl to ceramic tile- a sandy-colored faux travertine marble porcelain tile.

We also upgraded the carpet and pad to a Stainmaster carpet and Stainmaster pad, which will extend the warranty to 10-years. The carpeting is also a sandy-tan color, with flecks of burgundy, green, and blue, which will coordinate with the rug and the paintings, and also hide pet hair and other stuff!

The cabinets are standard (upgrading cabinets was ridiculously expensive!!!), and are a medium oak finish... the countertop is laminate, and is a faux granite called "Jamocha" that has flecks of browns, tans, greenish tones, and darks in it. This should tie it all together with the appliances, which will be black. No major upgrades on the appliances, except for a gas range instead of electric. The appliance salesperson may have been disappointed, but neither of us is Emeril, so major upgrades in the appliances aren't really necessary.

So, now we just have to wait to see it till it's all installed- one carpet square, one tile, and a 5 x 7 piece of countertop just isn't enough to really visualize it!