Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Trailer park update

It's 7:15 in the morning and it sounds like my wall is going to cave in. Today the activity next door has progressed to mind-numbing banging. Meanwhile, our neighbor is standing out front on his bluetooth, smoking a cigarette, and coughing his heart out. How do I get a non-smoking ordinance in front of my condo? You know, like the ones you have in front of Starbucks?

Monday, July 30, 2007

I live in a trailer park

Ok, well, you're right... I don't actually live in a trailer park, I live in a fairly decent neighborhood in a row of townhouses, but I'm beginning not to know the difference.

My next door neighbors are GHETTO.

There, I've said it. God knows, at some point in the near future California Real Estate Law is going to require that sellers disclose all blog entries pertaining to annoying neighbors and I'm going to seriously regret this rant. (Hubbie is cringing as I write this, I can predict.)

About a year ago Hubbie sold the next door townhouse to a family with three teenage daughters. Hubbie was the listing agent so he didn't represent the buyers only the desperate seller, in dire straits having lost her job and facing foreclosure on her property. So, my point is, we can't blame Hubbie for the new neighbor.

Right after they moved in, we knew it was going to be a bad deal.

The father immediately started accosting poor Hubbie out front whenever he was out there watering our potted plants or over the fence in the back yard while we were bbq'ing. The man is a heart attack waiting to happen... well, actually he already had one, but he's headed straight for a second and possibly third.

He's one of those people who spend all his time finding fault with others in this world and asserting his superiority over them without once looking in the mirror at himself. (Although if I were him I wouldn't be looking either.) His preferred method of communication with his wife and daughters is shouting, cussing, and insults, most famously done in front of the house on the street.

You can imagine the scene: 300lbs of man meets 200lbs of teenager, pointing fingers, tears, yelling, hurling insults while walking up to the front door, dodging insults while walking away, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Mom gets involved in order to "calm everyone down" but soon becomes part of the melee. Second teenage daughter appears to support sister, dragging her away, sobbing and cussing, into the pick-up truck.

It's great entertainment when there's nothing on the tv but not so wonderful if you're trying to get your place rented. (God help us if we try to bring someone by to view the place.)

What's worse is that Dad immediately waltzed-in and got himself on the board of directors for our HOA. Now he's changing all the rules to meet his angry whim. For instance, before he arrived the pet size limit was 35lbs. About a month after he moved in, they bought a black lab mix (yes, in a 1400 sq ft townhome) that clearly had no intention of remaining under 35lbs. This week we find, coincidentally, the pet size limit has been increased to 70lbs. Totally impractical for a townhome community but then I'm sure black labbie next door comes in at a clean 69.9lbs.

The latest installment in the next-door saga is the flooring. I guess he ripped out the carpet which, while not being top-quality, was new when they moved in. Unfortunately, he didn't bother to check what the pricing of new carpeting is these days and when he couldn't afford to pay for it up front, got turned d0wn for credit at almost every place in town. (Probably something to do with his 100% financing and two brand-new car payments.) In the interim his house boasted cement flooring... painted blue... with red walls. With no carpet, the dolcet tones of the entire family's volly of continual insults echoes around their rooms and booms through our common walls.

This weekend was the time for the new flooring to be laid. We're not exactly sure what he's been trying to lay or where, but there's been much sawing, banging, and cussing, accompanied by toing-and-froing in front of the house in wife-beater shirts.

All of which is VERY condusive to working from home.

In other news... still nothing from the seller's bank on the place we're trying to buy.

Uggghhh! Blech! Arggghhh!

I'm sick. I feel like I've been sick since... well, forever. Okay, I'm exaggerating it's actually since last Tuesday but seriously, that's almost a week!!!!

If you know me well, you'll know that I have no patience for anything that slows me down and stops me from doing what I want to do - sickness included. And most of the time I'm pretty good at powering through whatever bug or injury has been kind enough to grace me with it's presence. Every now and then, however, something comes along that decides this whole 'mind over matter' thing is a load of rubbish and kicks me right back on my ass.

This is one such nasty buggy and it has an evil sense of humor.

It started with a sore throat on Tuesday afternoon, closely followed by an all-encompassing sense of exhaustion that had me sleeping twelve hours. After giving in to Mr. Buggy with all that sleep, I felt certain I'd sent him packing.

Not so fast, he said. Wednesday's menu included a sore throat, swollen glands, stubborn headache, and again the urge to nap after every activity more energetic than lifting the remote control. Refusing to admit defeat, I grabbed hubbie for a latte and an evening drive through the countryside to see a house he had just sold, thinking I just needed some fresh air. This has to be the worst of it, I thought, dragging myself up the stairs to bed as if I had shackles on my ankles.

By Thursday, the sore throat had turned into a little cough but overall I was feeling better. Off to the office I went, thinking 'I sure showed Mr. Buggy.' That afternoon I began to lose my voice. Mr. Buggy, I was learning, likes to fake you out. But, no mind, off I went to a football game, yelling and screaming (well, ok more like squeaking and squarking) for England. By the time I got home I felt like someone had poured acid down my throat. All I needed, I thought in my naivety, was a good night's sleep.

On Friday I opened my mouth and pretty much nothing but an "eeek" came out. I continued to work, apologizing to my potential and current clients as I let all calls go to voicemail and replied to everyone via email. Still, I ignored the buzzing in my head and the need to nap, thinking I could just tune out Mr. Buggy.

Saturday had me feeling like I'd got it licked. While my voice was only little more than an "eeek" (now almost an "eeeeek"), overall I felt good. Hubbie and I jumped back in the car and headed out to Jackson Rancheria, an Indian Gaming Casino in the boonies of Amador County. We feasted in the buffet, gambled, and then headed home $10 richer. Yep, last of the great winners here. I went to bed Saturday night dreaming of waking up on Sunday with boundless energy, and the urge to do laundry and housework. (Hey, who said dreams had to have anything to do with reality.)

Mr. Buggy had other ideas.

Back came the headache, the utter exhaustion, the buzzing in my head, the coughing - all now coupled with the inability to breath through my nose. I managed to get some laundry done, inbetween laying on the sofa and groaning in defeat. If I'd had a white flag, honestly, I would have been waving it.

Mr. Buggy had won. I spent almost the entire day on the sofa, unable to move, barely able to keep my eyes open, and propped-up by pillows to ward-off the coughing fits. I didn't leave the 1400 square feet of my house all day, except to pick up hubbie whose car broke down.

It's now Monday and I'm still not 100%. Buzzing, coughing, a little tired still (although lord knows how.) But I didn't wake up at 4:30 to go to the gym this morning; I let myself sleep in. My white flag is quite firmly in the air.

I HATE being sick.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thoroughly flummoxed

That's me with this whole Roberto Gonzales maelstrom right now.


It never ceases to amaze me how the Bush administration manages to weazle itself out of these things. Sometimes I feel like I'm part of a Harry Potter novel, with everybody going about their business as if nothing is wrong while an entire undercurrent of evil and corruption bubbles under the surface - everyone knows it's there but nobody will call it by name. Well, VOLDEMORT, I mean BUSH, I say!

Finding memories in unexpected places

Last night Hubbie and I went to a football game (and by football I mean the real kind, not the rugby-for-pussies kind). The game was a "friendly" between Preston, a small British football club, and a Mexican team from Monterrey.

I dragged hubbie there to cheer the Brits on, something which I never would have dreamed of doing while living in the UK. Growing up in England, I avoided football matches - televised and live - like the plague. My main exposure to the sport was from my Grandad - my Mum's Dad - who loved the sport and would tune into "Match of the Day" which is akin to Monday Night Football in the U.S., except it's on a Sunday. My Grandad loved football and my uncle, my Mum's brother Frankie, was football mad. Frankie's kids, my cousins Darren and Paul, all played professionally, Darren even playing for the England Youth Team. My Uncle, Frankie, was a scout for Tottenham for a while during it's heyday with Terry Venabales (a previous England coach and a friend of my Uncle's), Gary Linnekar and Gazza. My Mum, as a girl, even has great stories about sitting on Terry Venabales knee.

Of course, to those of you who know nothing at all about "soccer" I'm sounding very knowledgeable right now. Really my shameless name-dropping is pathetic at best to the average Brit. Even if you don't watch football in England, it's hard for the national sport not to drift into your consciousness - kind of like, as an American, it's hard not to know that Barry Bonds is going for the home-run record right now. Basically, you would need to turn off all forms of media and put your head in the sand.

Where I'm going with this (and I am going somewhere) is that the likelihood of me dragging my husband to a football game had I of continued living in the UK, was slim to none. But it's amazing what you grasp desperately onto from your home country once you leave.

So, there I was, sitting in a converted minor-league baseball field in Sacramento, a stadium packed with Mexican immigrants, watching a little-known team from northern England play a Mexican football team. What's more, I was even enjoying it.

We had great seats, close to mid-field and only eight rows back from the pitch, and the sight of a big, round football soaring high and long down the pitch, almost brought tears to my eyes. As the teams moved up and down the pitch, tackling, fowling, even fighting, I realized how much I had missed this game that had lived on the peripheral of my consciousness throughout my entire childhood. The atmosphere was electric, people straining to watch the game as it moved closer to either end of the pitch, then rising to their feet to cheer or express disappointment when someone went for the goal. How could anyone love the snail's pace of baseball, or the constant stoppages and littany of rules of American Football better than this?

What's more, I couldn't help thinking: My Grandad would be so proud. And at the same time Why didn't I give this game a chance before? All those years I complained and rolled my eyes as the music to "Match of the Day" filled our living room, and I should have been sitting side-by-side with my Grandad, sharing in his passion. Throughout the game images popped in and out of my head, images of Grandad sitting in his armchair, legs crossed, with one of his knitted cardigans on, grumbling at the tv set as his team, West Ham, inevitably lost. He's been gone for sixteen years, half my life, but yesterday I really missed him.

We left 10 minutes before the end of the game. Preston was down 0-1 and even through my rose-tinted glasses I could tell they weren't playing all that well. I hear Monterrey won 2-0 in the end.

Monday, July 23, 2007


A husband and wife are vacationing out at a remote lake.

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decidesto take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decidesto take the boat out. She motors out a short distance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman andsays, "Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking, "Isn't that obvious?")

"You're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her.

"I'm sorry, officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could startat any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.

"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.

"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day ma'am," and he left.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Vote in my poll...

See right-hand column... down in the "white" area. I would have put it at the top but the writing doesn't show up on the dark blue column.

Thanks to The Gerli Life for the blogaddition.

Britrant... Simpsonized!

Hot on the heels of the "Southparkme" tool comes "Simpsonize Yourself."

Here is me, Simpsonized and hanging out at a bar with Homer himself.

In other news, a tin of incense fell onto one of my toes and it's either broken or has a hairline fracture. Either way.... OUCH!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back from blogiatus

Ok, so I've been really slack at posting lately. In my defense, I have good reason.

First, my Mum was out the week of July 4th...

Second, Hubbie and I are in the throws of trying to buy a house. Yes, we finally found one that fits all our criteria and, if all goes according to plan, we're getting a killer deal.

We have the seller's signature but, because it's a short-sale, we have to wait for their bank to approve the purchase price. So, until we get approval I'm not going to jinx us by providing any more information. If/when we do, you bet I will!

The domino effect of all of this is that we're also trying to rent our townhouse. Since the market is so down here in Sac, there's little point in trying to sell it. Right now we're painting and taking care of some latent home-maintenance issues with the goal of getting a tennant asap, to avoid a gap between the purchase of the new place (if/when we get it) and the vacating of the townhouse.

Last night we painted 1/2 of the living room with a more neutral golden brown, replacing my much beloved Ralph Lauren Chamois yellow (which is not everyone's cup of tea.) We still have 1/2 a living room, the stairwell, upstairs hallway, downstairs bathroom, and master bedroom left. That's without mentioning cleaning the tile grout and replacing the water heater. Phew!

In other news, I wanted to mention two small human acts of kindness that have totally taken me by surprise these past couple of weeks:

  1. After loading my shopping into my trunk in the Trader Joe's parking lot, I turned around to see where the nearest trolley park was (shopping cart for you Yanks). As I did so, a woman came past me pushing her own empty trolley. "Let me take that for you," she said. So unaccustomed to a stranger's umprompted generosity was I that I actually looked hard at her to ensure she wasn't carrying a gun and about to mug or car-jack me. I even protested: "No, that's okay. Thank you. I can do it." "No, really. I'm heading over there anyway," she persisted, grabbing the handle from me. And off she walked. Never seen her before, may never see her again. How nice was that?
  2. Hubbie and I went up to Foresthill on Friday night, site of our wedding just 8 months ago. (If you can believe it, we still get to stay and drink for free at the hotel where we got married. Anyway... that's not the story.) Saturday morning we head to the "Starlight Cafe" for breakfast, a hole-in-the-wall cafe on the Foresthill Road with the worst tasting coffee I've ever had the misfortune of drinking. After a few minutes, a family we had seen at the Forest House hotel the night before walked in. The young woman of the group was getting married that very afternoon. Her father-in-law recognized us from the Forest House and we exchanged greetings, then later small talk but that was about the extent of our relationship. Done with breakfast, we asked our waitress for the check and she told is that the father-in-law had picked-up our tab. We were pretty flabberghasted. Again we protested but gracefully accepted his generosity. Leaving, Hubbie said "That was weird," equally as suspicious of the man's motives as I had been of the woman who had taken back my trolley.

Both situations really touched me even though the gestures were small. Here were two complete strangers who performed random acts of kindness without expectation of anything in return.

In my suspicion of their actions, however, I recognized something sad. So seldom is it these days that we humans show each other kindness or common courtesy without agenda, that we actually question the motives of a stranger who is nice to us! I've seen the movie Pay It Forward, and I definitely experience kindness from my friends and colleagues, but I've rarely (if ever in my recollection) been the recipient of such efforts from complete strangers.

So, I resolve to perform random acts of kindness whenever the appropriate opportunity arises now. As I do so, I will post them here. If you do the same, please share what you did and what the reaction was and I'll include them in a post.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Should we all start praying to Allah?

I'm not one to panic but Chester the Bear's comment on one of my posts got me thinking...

Said the soft cuddly one: "Personally, I think it's the beginning of the end of the world as we know it, and your kids had better learn Chinese and Arabic if they're going to get anywhere."

It's certainly true that western, white christians are not procreating at the same rate as other religions and races.

This from www.danielpipes.org:

Indigenous Europeans are dying out. Sustaining a population requires each woman on average to bear 2.1 children; in the European Union, the overall rate is one-third short, at 1.5 a woman, and falling. One study finds that, should current population trends continue and immigration cease, today's population of 375 million could decline to 275 million by 2075.To keep its working population even, the E.U. needs 1.6 million immigrants a year; to sustain the present workers-to-retirees ratio requires an astonishing 13.5 million immigrants annually.


Europe is increasingly a post-Christian society, one with a diminishing connection to its tradition and its historic values. The numbers of believing, observant Christians has collapsed in the past two generations to the point that some observers call it the "new dark continent." Already, analysts estimate Britain's mosques host more worshippers each week than does the Church of England.

Some 5% of the E.U., or nearly 20 million persons, presently identify themselves as Muslims; should current trends continue, that number will reach 10% by 2020. If non-Muslims flee the new Islamic order, as seems likely, the continent could be majority-Muslim within decades.

The National Intelligence Council projects that Europe's Muslim population will double by 2025.

I don't know who this guy is (and honestly he is a bit "worst case scenario") but he and Chester have a point. Are we a dying race? And if so, what on earth does that look like for us?

It's not that we could become the minority in and of itself - I'm all for the melting pot theory - but the fact that the projected majority hate us, for the most part, and despise our way of life is pretty damning.

While not all Muslims are this way by any stretches of the imagination, there does seem to be a lack of desire to "melt", so to speak. It's more like oil and water, with only one able to rise to the top.

What do you think?

Is this just part of life's pendulum and eventually it will swing in the other direction before any major, radical world realignment happens? OR are we really staring down a future where all women wear burkas and the call to prayer will be heard on loudspeakers in London?

From brown rings to gold rings...

Quite possibly the strangest proposal I've heard yet...

Blair proposed as Cherie cleaned

Tony Blair proposed to Cherie while she was on her knees cleaning a toilet, she has revealed in a BBC One documentary.

In The Real Cherie Blair she says Mr Blair popped the question in a "terribly romantic" way while they were on holiday in 1979.

Meanwhile, the ex-prime minister has revealed he sometimes called his wife - a Liverpudlian - "Bolshie Scouser".

The Blairs left Downing Street last week, with Mrs Blair telling reporters: "I don't think we'll miss you."

Mrs Blair told how Mr Blair had proposed to her while they were on holiday in Tuscany in 1979, before he became an MP.

"As we were leaving to go home, I was cleaning up in the bathroom," she recalled.

"I'd cleaned the toilet and he suddenly announced, while I was on my knees, that maybe we should get married... It was terribly romantic!"
Um... ok...? I guess Mr. Blair really appreciates a nice clean bowl. I wonder if she promised to love, honor, and Clorox?

Further proof that British men need some help in the relationship department. Jeez!


p.s. A "Scouser" is a Liverpudlian, for those of you that were wondering.

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