Thursday, October 29, 2009

Last Minute Laura Strikes Again!

Halloween is Saturday (today is Thursday).

I've had my Halloween Costume Patterns for about 2 months now (Butterick sale).

So of course I didn't start work on our costumes until yesterday.

I mean, what's the rush?

I started in on things after work yesterday and sewed until 11:30 PM. Today was my day off and I started sewing as soon as I woke up. Hans had left early in the morning for some appointments and when he walked in at two in the afternoon, I still hadn't showered (ooooh!) but kept right on sewing.

Then for some insane reason I quit long enough to go to my first ever spinning class. I think even my eyelashes were sweating, and I went so far as to accuse our instructor of being the spawn of Hitler. She just bared her teeth at me and pedaled harder.

I got home and hit the sewing machine once again, sans shower. After awhile I couldn't even stand myself and it reminded me of some of the people I've stood behind in grocery store lines.

After two days of marathon sewing, adventuring outside after sunset two times in my 'not so nice after dark neighborhood' to pound grommets (because I can only do this on cement), I finally finished!!!!

I'm very thankful that I only have one house to clean tomorrow as the 'post construction' job that was to follow the first house, has been bumped to Monday.

Post Construction clean up is hell! Especially in furnished homes.

My back is starting to seize up and I don't know if it's from bending over the sewing machine and ironing board, or from the Spinning From Hell episode.

Anyway we have to head back to my home town tomorrow because the guy who wants to buy my house is getting a VA loan, and apparently the VA inspection team all suffer from hemorrhoids and PMS, and will go out of their way to find issues with the homes of nasty people attempting to sell their homes to vets!

While we're there we are going to a few Halloween functions and I intend to get pictures of these damned costumes!!!

I took this picture when we were in Trier, Germany (from about 4 stories up so I really had to zoom in) and it's a small hint to what we'll be wearing.

Like I said, it's a hint so don't just assume (never assume!!!) anything!!!

Please stay tuned for the unveiling!!!

*****I've added a link to my reference to 'spinning'. I can understand that someone might think I was talking about spinning wool, and believe me, that would have been a lot more fun!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What was I thinking??!!

We're headed for our boat tomorrow (Annapolis), and instead of packing, I was stupid enough to watch The Perfect Storm!
Even though we're going to be in the Chesapeake and not in the ocean, that still wasn't a smart move on my part.
I'm not sure if I ever told you about the time we went to the Crow's Nest when we were in Gloucester, Massachusetts, shopping for a boat, but we did.

It was a beautiful weekend in January (the previous weekend had found the city buried in snow!) and we headed into town to get something to eat. Hans saw the Crow's Nest sign and insisted it was the same bar from the Perfect Storm and that we should go in. I said no way was it the same bar, that I had no problem with going in, but there was absolutely no way he was to ask them if this was THE Crow's Nest. I felt it would be in very bad taste considering that all the men aboard the Andrea Gail had died.

Hans agreed with me and then as soon as we were seated he asked the barmaid if this was the bar from The Perfect Storm.

Before I could choke him, the barmaid said it certainly was.

I told her I was sorry (while I kicked Hans, sitting on the bar stool beside me), and remarked that she must be sick to death of people asking this question.

"Hey, it's good for business!" she laughed, and hauled out a huge photo album that she dropped in front of us, and then left to wait on other customers.

So Hans and I leafed through the album and looked at pictures of George Clooney, Diane Lane, and people from Gloucester, whoop it up and party and have an all around good time.

I found it a bit disconcerting yet also fascinating.

Before we left we stopped and looked at the pictures of the captain and crew, from the Andrea Gail, that adorn the walls of the bar.

I guess if it's good for business, then they didn't die in vain.

Here is Hans outside of the Crow's Nest. I have to say it was a rather dim and dreary place. They also didn't serve food so we only had one beer before we moved on.

There are many sea themed statues in New England. This is a wife, with her kids, awaiting her husbands return from the sea.
She's probably wondering when the hell he's going to get back because she could use a break!

We expect rain on Saturday other wise I hope it's a Perfect Weekend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Keep your fingers crossed!!

I only pray that I don't jinx myself with this, BUT!!!!!

I got an offer on my house!!

After eight months on the market!!

I had a bare bottom, minimum amount in my head and that's what was offered. But I hadn't bargained on paying the buyer's closing costs, and apparently the buyer thinks I should.

Allrighty then.

I also had a new stove and refrigerator installed last month and I have to pay for that too. Then there's the Home Warranty Protection Plan that the buyer insists on my taking care of (at the tune of an additional $450.00). Oh, how about my expensive sectional furniture and the house saving dehumidifier? Throw them in too, insists the buyer!

Factor in my closing costs, and the realtor's fees and WOW! What the hell was I thinking when I decided to buy a house 12 years ago? I would have been better off renting and therefor saving myself a chunk of change because during those 12 years I:

Replaced my furnace (not cheap).

Installed new gutters, garage door, porch railing, 2 outside doors, 2 screen doors, ceiling lite/fan, and fluorescent lights in the basement.

I'm going to be lucky to recoup my down payment.

And that's only if some damned inspector doesn't step in and question my paint color choices!!!!

On a lighter note, I went to check on Baby Girl and her crazy cat Evvy.

Evvy is still crazy.

I've never seen so much energy in one cat in all my life (and it's been a long one believe me!)

Here she is before one of her many leaps. She seems to defy gravity and goes from sitting still to hanging off sofas, chairs, and my leg at any given moment.

Aha, this leaf will never darken Baby Girl's doorstep again!

Mid leap!

After peeling Evvy and her thousand claws off various parts of my anatomy, Baby Girl got out the spray bottle.

One spray had Evvy flipping through the air and across the room where she landed on a plastic bag that Evvy deemed to be 'safe'.

This went on for the duration of my visit. All I had to do when Evvy zinged herself at me, was point the bottle at her, and she would retreat to the bag.

I tried to take pictures but the wrist strap on my camera was too tempting and SPLAT, Baby Girl would have to give her a squirt.

I even got into the act and at one point when I let Evvy have it, Baby Girl protested, "MOM!!! She wasn't even doing anything!"

"Well, I just want her to know who's boss." I explained myself.

I have to wonder just how much Cat Nip this kitty's mother did before giving birth!

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's all in the translation

We were sitting at an outdoor cafe on a canal in Amsterdam with Baby Brother and Partner when Hans brought up the subject of the Rosetta Stone (don't ask me how these discussions get started because I haven't a clue!). He had just mentioned the three languages that appear on the stone and Baby Brother corrected him. It turns out there are two languages and three scripts. The languages being Egyptian and Greek, and the third script is demotic which is another form of hieroglyphics.

This is the kind of repartee that goes on in Hans' family. In my family everyone tries to remember which neighbor got drunk and threw fish in our swimming pool.

But anyway, by the time we arrived in Germany (with the Traveling Pie) I'd forgotten the Rosetta discussion. We traipsed around Trier and took in the sights which include the largest Roman gate still standing, and a church that has been burned down and rebuilt so many times that I hope the next invaders realize that destroying it would be redundant.

We had just passed the old sight of a nun's cloister when we saw this graffiti scrawled all over an ancient wall.

I remarked that perhaps about a zillion years from now when aliens excavate this area they'll try to figure out what civilization left their writings upon these walls.

That's when Hans (who does not share my sense of humor) surprised me and said in a somber voice, "I hope they have someone who can decipher the Graffiti Stone."

This made me laugh for the rest of the day.

Monday, October 12, 2009

There's no such thing as free!

So on Friday we got a late night call from a friend inviting us to a $100.00 a plate charity dinner being held on Saturday night.

For free!

"Oh boy! Count us in!" We cried.

So why the hell did this 'free' $100.00 a plate function end up costing so much?

Well for one thing, as soon as soon as I heard 'cash bar' I knew we were in trouble. And then Hans informed me that that it was a formal event and I knew I was sunk.

Sure, it's easy for Hans who has a suit and plenty of ties.

But what was I supposed to wear?

After shooting down every wardrobe suggestion Hans made, "How many times to I have to tell you I've gained five pounds this year!!! " I had a bit of a brainstorm.

Remember this dress?

I decided that with the right shoes and purse I might be able to pull it off.

But that meant a trip to the shoe store.

Long story short, I found a very pretty pair of ruby red slingback sandals.

Pricey slingback sandals.

And then the clearance rack sucked me into its vortex. I had no control.

I added a pair of sandals that, get this, look like cork!!!!!!!! Not just the soles, but the sandals themselves! I'm not kidding! Cork! And I have cork fabric that I fully intend to make into a dress and how cool would it be to have a cork dress with matching cork shoes??!!

The only pair they had and they were actually in my size!!!!!


Here is one of the shoes I bought sitting beside a tiny amount of left over fabric that I saved from my dress. Thank God I saved that scrap because it ended up becoming a purse.

I arrived home with an hour to spare before we had to leave for our function and I still had to make the purse.

I scrambled through my purse supplies and was terribly lucky to find a matching zipper, and a huge gold bracelet sized ring, and I immediately set to work.

I finished with seconds to spare.

This was a dinner boat cruise and here I am on the deck of the boat.

You can barely see my purse and shoes.

This isn't the greatest picture. My top stitching is wonky but I was in such a hurry I couldn't agonize over it too much!

When we first arrived at the boat I was initially horrified to see the formal, dignified attire of some of the women. We had no sooner set foot on the boat when one man rushed up to us and from the way he greeted us I know he thought Hans was an executive from the huge corporation that sponsored the event. We both laughed over that and I told Hans that I hoped no one realized I was wearing a slightly bastardized version of a Simplicity sundress, and he took me by surprise and made me laugh by saying, "I'm more worried about your Goodwill coat." (A beautiful full length black leather coat that he bought me on one of our thrifting trips!).

But I have to tell you I received tons of compliments all night long from: a lady in the elevator, the girls who dispense soap in the bathroom, a barmaid, guests on the boat, etc...

I actually started to feel a little foolish.

The best thing of all about my purse is that it was able to hold our two complimentary candy bars just perfectly (I placed them outside of the purse so you can see)!

Look at that!

So after you figure in two new pairs of shoes, a cash bar where two drinks pretty much killed a twenty dollar bill (and two drinks were just a start), a couple of drinks after we got off the boat, and parking garage fees, it wasn't such a bargain of a night after all.

But at least I didn't have to click my heels together to find out that there's no place like home!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"We have a winner!" proclaims The Countess von Chlorox

I promised to post the winner of my 'tell a ghost story, win a purse contest' today, and I will, but first I must let you in on the whole choosing process.

I decided that since we have a spooky, other world theme going on that it was only fitting to take a slightly different approach at picking a winner.

So I beseeched The Countess von Chlorox to help me. You see, the lovely Countess von Chlorox knows all and sees all.

When she isn't reading tea leaves, she's gazing into crystal balls, and if you cross her paw with catnip she'll return the favor by reading your palm. She was just shuffling her tarot cards when I approached her. Lucky for me the cards had just informed her that there was indeed Gouda cheese in her future, so she was in good humor.

I couldn't help it, but I asked her if her crystal ball might tell her what happens to naughty cats who poop on the dining room floor, in full view of Hans, but she ignored me!

The Countess is moody about things like that.

The Countess sits quietly beside the bowl full of entries. I asked her to hurry up but she said she needed to 'feel the vibration' and that it's a pity that no one understands her craft.

Finally she tips the bowl over and out rolls a winner.

The Countess is suspicious.
Is this really the winner?

Satisfied that there is no fakery afoot, The Countess relaxes and declares a winner.

And it's BeeBee from Pastiche.

BeeBee, send me an email and we'll figure out what kind of purse you'd like.

I really want to thank everyone for participating in my contest.
It was great fun reading your stories and I hope to do this again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Ghost Story Stuff for the Contest

There's another Halloween Contest going on over at Katie's blog. Katie is a published author who loves to sew but you'll need to check her guidelines. Go check it out!

My contest (leave your story or comment on this post ) is open to everyone, and yes that means you international readers. Remember you can win a passport purse, or a back pack made in your choice of colors!

Also!! You don't need to have a blog to comment. Just leave your name and if you win, look for your name on Sunday. You can then email me with your address. Please understand that I'm not a stalker and even if you give me your address I most likely could never find you as I have no sense of direction!!!

Comments will be accepted until Saturday, October 10 at midnight (EST in the US). I will publish the winner on Sunday.

Thank you everyone for your stories. I'm finding mine to be pretty tame compared to yours.

So now I'm going to take this opportunity to relate a couple more stories that I've been told over the years.

When my mother was around ten or so, she was visiting her grandmother's house. Mom had gone upstairs and was startled to find an old woman sitting at her grandmother's vanity brushing her long white hair. She was wearing a high collared black dress that went all the way to the floor and my mother was puzzled because this was something that ladies in the 1940's didn't wear. She also wondered why the heck this lady was in her grandmother's bedroom. Suddenly the woman realized my mother was watching her because she turned in her seat and glared at her.

And then she disappeared.

Mom ran down to the kitchen and asked her grandmother who this woman was.

Grandma just stood there with a funny look on her face. She didn't say anything for a moment and before turning away she told my mother to forget it. Mom says from the way her grandmother reacted she thinks that she too had seen this old woman, or at least knew who it was, because otherwise she would have laughed at her or told her it was nonsense.

This is very much like a story I heard just a couple of weeks ago. I was at a party and I was talking to a woman who told me about her father who died unexpectedly a few years ago. Shortly after he died she walked into her own family room only to see her dad sitting in his favorite chair and watching TV. She called out "Dad!" and he actually turned, looked at her, and then disappeared. This happened more than once. But she was still having a hard time with his death and cried a lot. And then one day during a crying jag she felt something beside her and looked up. There was her father right beside her and he was shaking his head and frowning. She said "I knew that look and he was unhappy with me." And once again he disappeared. That's when she decided that it was time to move on and she never saw him again.

I told her about my run in with the religious lady at the inn, and Karen who's devoutly religious, remarked, "What the hell does that have to do with it? She must be a nut!"

Thank you very much!

Anymore ghost stories out there??? C'mon, I'm sure there are! And you have until Saturday night to leave a comment!!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Do you believe in ghosts? Yes or no, win a purse.

I've never had a contest nor have I given anything away on my blog because I really didn't think anyone would want anything I make. But since not all of my readers are sewists, and not all of my sewing readers like to make purses, I'm going to give it a shot.

And who doesn't like something for free. Well almost free, because I have a task for you.

Read on.

I love a good ghost story which is probably why Halloween is my favorite holiday of all. That and getting dressed up in costume, drinking apple cider (hard or otherwise), enjoying the colors of fall... I could go on ad nauseum but I'll stop here.

I, for one, like to keep an open mind about the spirit world, but until a ghost jumps up and bites Hans the scientist, on the butt, he says they don't exist. Period.

So anyway back in 1999 I had a run in with something (that until someone can prove otherwise) I will call a ghost.

It was December and I was waitressing at the inn. I've mentioned in the past that December is a hellishly busy month at the inn due to Christmas parties etc... and the day of my run in with Miss Ghost, I worked a double shift.

I finished serving lunch and headed down to the ladies room in the dinner theater area of the inn to fix my makeup (waitressing is a sweaty job). At this point the only other person in the whole downstairs was one of the waiters, and he was in the dining room.

The ladies room has a double sink area directly in front of four stalls. If you stand at the sink you cannot touch the stall doors even if you lean. Bear with me, this is important.

As I was fixing my makeup, the stall door directly behind me started to open.

Okay, apparently I wasn't alone in the bathroom. No big deal.

Except the door opened up fully, and from my vantage point at the mirror, I could see that there was no one there.

Also understand that these are heavy wooden doors and there is a big steel spring on the inside that keeps the doors closed when not in use. So after I watched the door open up, I watched it slam and eventually bounce closed.

That's when I turned around.

Okay, who the hell was playing a joke on me.

"Hello?" I called out.

No answer.

So I walked over and opened the door. Of course no one was in there, nor was anyone in the other three stalls, because I opened those doors too.

That's when I stalked out of the bathroom and went to fetch Mike, the waiter, from the dining room.

Mike was a college kid and I used my Mom voice on him so he didn't argue when I demanded he come into the bathroom with me.

He patiently listened to my story and agreed that no way could I have bumped the stall door while standing at the sink.

He agreed that the window was shut and a draft could not have caused the door to open.

And since we're not prone to earthquakes, the only explanation was that I'd had a run in with the legendary inn ghost.

There've been many recorded sightings of the ghost over the years but I certainly didn't think I'd end up having one of them.

And while I found the encounter puzzling, I was never really frightened which is shocking because I'm a chicken shit at heart, I really am!

I've told this story countless times to guests over the years, and for the most part it's been favorably received. I've even had demands for more stories.

Except for one woman. Her thin lips disappeared and her nostrils swelled. "I'm a Christian!" she announced haughtily. "And I don't believe in ghosts!" I wanted to ask her if she'd ever heard of the holy ghost, but I didn't dare!

This sighting happened the first year I worked there and unfortunately I never experienced another one.

So here goes. Because I love me a ghost story I want to hear yours. You can even just leave a comment as to whether you believe in ghosts or not. Or maybe you think I'm crazy (but understand your chances of winning might greatly diminish if you feel the need to tell me so!)

In a week I'll make a random drawing. Whoever wins will get a custom made purse created by me (what the heck, it's free!). I think either a passport purse (you don't need a passport to use it!) Or a back pack. I'll even let you pick your own colors!

I will be out of Internet range until Tuesday so I hope when I get back I have some fun and spooky stories to read!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Life in the 'hood

I've made mention about the neighborhood I live in, and this week has brought it all home again.

Yesterday I was on my way home from the gym and the state store (doesn't everyone stop for liquor after a workout?), and I wondered what the hell was going on now, because the road that goes past our apartment was totally backed up.

Customers at the hole in the wall bar (that dares to call itself a pub) up the street from us, had spilled out on the sidewalk and were all staring up the street. Porches that are normally empty all year long, were full of their house's inhabitants.

"Great! A wreck, just what I need (I'm now a hard hearted Big City dweller)!"

And then I saw a police car pulled up on the sidewalk.

Then another police car.

Holy shit! There were police cars all over the place (I counted eight) and they were parked across every driveway entrance including ours and what the hell had Hans done now?

I slowed to a stop and not one person behind me honked their horn.

Everyone was that mesmerized.

I finally pulled over and parallel parked across the street. My heart slowed down a bit when I realized that our apartment (and Vet Tech Girl's apartment, below) didn't appear to be the center of activity. I saw policemen with guns drawn, walking around a junky apartment house just up from us. From the looks of things I'd say they were searching for someone and all I could think was; if that certain someone had broken into Vet Tech Girl's apartment, he was probably sitting on the couch and sharing bon-bons with my grand-dog Duncan the Pit Bull.

I managed to lug my sweaty body, and my many bottles of liquor across the street without getting caught in any crossfire, and burst into our apartment breathless with excitement.

I made Hans, who had been slaving away at the computer (Internet poker) and hadn't heard a thing, look out the window but by then most of the police cars were gone.

Then tonight we walked out of the apartment and there sat three police cars, and once again the police were circling the building up the street, only now they had a police dog with them. But shortly thereafter they left.

I very excitedly filled Vet Tech Girl in on the situation and she (like Hans) had no idea this was going on around us. I was telling her to please be careful and keep an eye out because I don't think the culprit has been caught. We then veered off that subject and onto her car (now fixed thank God), her need for a couch (I have one at my house that she can have), and then she said, "My friends love my purse! I even had a man say, 'I love your bag!' and another one of my co-workers loves it but she wants one that she can wear across her chest."

To be honest folks, I thought she'd either thrown it out or given it away. And it just made my day to see her hold it up and tell me how, because of its color, it's a great fall purse and she's loving it.

I think you have to be a parent to understand that your kid's approval sometimes takes precedence over prowling criminals and gun toting policemen!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My new favorite city

I really don't care if I ever see Paris again, but Amsterdam?

It's now my favorite foreign city.

Maybe it's because I had no expectations but now that I've been there I understand why Baby Brother and his partner are in love with it.

Across this canal is the house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazi's. We were only in Amsterdam for one day so I didn't have a chance to visit. If I ever get back there again, I will.

Finding affordable homes on the canals in Amsterdam is just about as easy as finding affordable homes on any waterfront. Meaning not easy at all.

Baby Brother has some friends, who, after 2o years of living there, finally bought a home this year.

Now look closely between the buildings. That is an apartment! Can you believe it? Someone was able to construct a living space there.

I kept wondering what seemed so different about the houses that I saw in Amsterdam (except for the fact that they are almost all 4 stories high). And then it hit me; everyone's windows are spotless and gleam in the light. No one uses screens, and windows in Europe open inward for easy cleaning.

A little crooked house right out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Baby Brother says the houses are inspected yearly so we're not to worry about it toppling over anytime soon.

Because houses were taxed on how many feet of frontage they occupied on the canals, people built their houses narrow yet deep.

This little guy was sleeping on his master's steps.

This is on the back street of one of the canal houses.

Look at the big speaker on the back of the bike. These musicians will stop, play music, collect tips, and move on.

While I was there the canals were very busy. See the big boat in the background? It's a live-aboard and spends all of its time tethered to the wall. There are tons of boats like this.

I guess you can't live any closer to the water than that.

Here's a funny note.

We were in a 'coffee house' where everyone was smoking pot etc... and I had to laugh when I saw a man get up and go outside to smoke a cigarette.


Because there in the land of legalized drugs, cigarettes are banned from being smoked indoors!