April 28, 2009


There's nothing like the thought of complete strangers living in your house to ignite a frenzy of home maintenance, cleaning, organizing, and clearing out. Ever since we bought our tickets for France I have been a woman on a mission. That mission has been to transform our old, run down (but charming!), hillside home into a place worthy of a vacation destination. And let me tell you, it's not easy to make up for nine years of laissez-faire home ownership in a matter of months. We're getting there, though.

Since my last post (which was ages ago--sorry!) I've given away a bunch of stuff on Freecycle, sold a few things on Craigslist, given away something I meant to sell on Craigslist (doh!). I've donated a carload of stuff to Out of the Closet, purchased a new patio table (on Craigslist!), Warren and I built a patio (even though we are not at all handy and for a brief period during said building I cried). I installed those little things on our kitchen cupboards that keep the doors closed (no more cats wandering through and breaking our wine glasses!), bought a new back door, and even had it installed.

Twice now, Jerry has laid his hand on my shoulder and said, "Mom, you need to take a break." So that's what I'm going to do today. Kind of. If I can. I obviuously need a break because even though I'm really happy about our trip and I'm even happy about all the work I've been doing around the house (shock of shocks!), I'm starting to get anxious.

And when I get anxious I fixate on really stupid things. Like yesterday I was convinced I was dying of lung cancer. My friend had called and said a friend of his had just died six days after learning she had lung cancer. She got a cough, went to the doctors three days later, found out she had lung cancer (she was a non-smoker!!) and was dead by the end of the week. So I've had a cough for about three months now and I also have an ache in my ribs on the left side and I had convinced myself that it was lung cancer that had spread to my bones. When Warren got home I told him I was dying and he told me I don't have lung cancer, said the pain in my side was not cancer in my bones--it was a pulled muscle (but I've had it for three months!!) and said I need to make an acupuncture appointment. "Acupuncture," I said, "will not get rid of my lung cancer!" But it will help your anxiety, he said, and he poured me a glass of wine. We drank wine, ate dinner, and watched Mork and Mindy (which, sadly, did not stand the test of time) and then I felt better.

So I no longer think I'm dying of lung cancer but I do have a doctor's appointment for Friday and I am going to make an acupuncture appointment.

But for now I'll share some pictures of our progress here at home.

First, a picture of Ravenpaw. He got a nasty bite on the tail (Warren is convinced Charlie was the culprit) which absesed and required surgery, stitches and the wearing of a cone. Poor guy.
Here's the story of how we built our patio. First we decided on a pattern.
Then we stained/painted the pavers.Then we leveled the ground. (We built it inside an old foundation that used to be the base of a horse stable back in the 1920s.)Then we laid the sand and started putting in the pavers.Of course, we ran out of sand two pavers shy of the finish line so we ended up putting the final two pavers in on Monday morning before Warren left for work. I'm still working on sweeping sand into the crevices.Here's our new back door. I still need to paint it.This is where an old broken window in our living room has been removed.Here's Ravenpaw (sans cone) enjoying the new opening. It'll have plastic sheeting over it for the next week or so while we wait for the new window to be made.And here's a sample of the work that lies ahead of us. Yes, those are weeds and yes, they are at least four feet tall.But it's all worth it because when it's done we're spending three weeks in France!!!

April 16, 2009

Bonjour Mes Amis!

Yes, I'm back and I'm speaking French! Why am I speaking French? Because my fervent desire to vacate this place and all the responsibilities I've acquired since my grandma died has come true! We're going to France! Better yet...it's a vacation. Not that I have anything against going to other countries when Warren is working there. That's nice too. But it's not a vacation because Warren is working. Sure Jerry and I travel around, but Warren never gets more than four days off in a row (and that has only happened once). But this time we'll leave together and come back together and we'll all experience the same things.

We found a family to swap houses and cars with. (Woohoo!!) They are in Tours (in the Loire Valley--chateau country) but also have a studio apartment in Paris at the base of the steps which lead up to the Sacre Coeur in Monmartre. So we're staying in Tours for two weeks, then we'll stay in Paris for a week. They have two teenage boys so their house is equipped with all the cool stuff we could ask for (ping pong table, bikes, scooters, etc.) and they will find our house similarly stocked. I'm so excited!! We're leaving L.A. on July 3 to take Patsy (our dog) to my mom's, will spend the 4th up there, and fly out of Sacramento on the 5th. Yippee!!

And, to make the trip even better, we're taking my niece along. She's 14 and she and Jerry get along really well. So Jerry will have someone his own age to hang out with and I'll have a girl to do girlie stuff with (shopping in Paris, the ballet...). It should be a fabulous three weeks.

So now I'm in a mad rush to get our house in order. I'm cleaing, organizing, getting rid of stuff, painting, planting and doing all the things I've thought about doing for, oh, about nine years, so our house will be presentable. It's so much more enjoyable to clean and organize when I know I'm doing it for a trip to France!

April 7, 2009

Urban Pacman

We've been trying to set up a house swap in France for a few weeks in July or August and had settled on Lyon as our destination because there was a family there that seemed interested in swapping with us--but then they stopped answering my e-mails. They dumped me. So I guess we're back to the drawing board. It's hard to decide where to go when you get offers from Paris and London and blah, blah, blah. I'm not complaining. I swear!

Anyway, the real reason I've come back from my blogging hiatus is to share the story of Urban Pacman with you. For some reason the idea of people playing real life Pacman on the streets of Lyon makes me very happy. And it's another good reason to go there! Why won't those people write back!!?? (Yes, that was whining.)

Read about it here.
Listen to the NPR story about it here (look for the Urban Pacman story under "Technology").
And watch the video here.
Seriously. Watch the video. I tried to embed it but couldn't get it to work. It's hilarious.

April 6, 2009

April Fool

It took me forever to realize this post on a friend's blog was a joke. It wasn't until I watched the video that I got it.
And then it wasn't until the following day at Park Day that I realized it had been posted on April Fool's Day. Duh. Guess who's an April Fool?

April 1, 2009

Spread The Word!

A friend from high school posted this on Facebook today:

"Here is a picture of my sister's 8 year old niece, Sandra Cantu, she has been missing since Friday afternoon. She was last seen in Tracy, California near her home. She was wearing a pink Hello Kitty T-Shirt and black leggings. She has been missing for over 4 days now and can be just about anywhere. If you see anything or hear anything, please contact the Tracy, CA Police. (209) 831-4550


Thank you to everyone for posting this and looking."
Click here for a bigger photo and more detailed description of Sandra.