Sunday, June 29, 2008
  Worse than "Radon"?
Last night I had a funny dream. Yes, I know no one likes to hear about other people's dreams, but this one got an out-loud chuckle from Chris, so I suppose I could share here.

Backstory: Chris's mom, for no reason at all, doesn't like me. To put it mildly. Read about it here (the first two posts at the top of the page there).

Apparently me thinking about having bebehs has affected my dreams, because last night I had a dream that Chris and I had a baby girl. While she was the size of a one-year-old (whatever, dream), she was also totally, totally adorable. When I came to in the hospital, Chris told me that he had picked out her name: Courtney. (Chris claims in waking life to not even like that name.) And then he told me his mom had picked out her middle name. It was in Chinese, and now I don't even remember how it was pronounced. He told me this after he had already made it official, and I was exasperated in the dream that he would so such a thing.

I didn't know what the Chinese middle name meant, so I found a person who spoke Chinese and asked them to translate. The middle name that Chris's mom had given to our newborn baby girl meant "Unwashed Whore" in English. Wheeeee!

Also, speaking of baby names, I had a brilliant idea for Wynne's baby, seeing as how I got an invitation to her baby shower, which is really an invitation to send a gift. You know, my 18-year-old stepniece who is having a baby next month and naming it RADON. Not the poisonous gas, but THE CHARACTER FROM MORTAL KOMBAT.

I'm going to pick something off her registry and send it, along with a BABY NAME BOOK. :D Maybe I'll go through and highlight names that are better than Radon. You know, all of them. Or is this idea too cruel? >:D
Saturday, June 28, 2008
  never drinking ROCKS

'cause... one night you will decide to go out for a friend's birthday and you will decide to eat shrimp even though you've not eaten any animal products for a WEEK and you will also have eggs (namago) and you will also decide to have a mojito. and you will also order a second one. and afterwards, you will be drunk to the point that your dinner companions are laughing at you. ON TWO DRINKS. and they will be very jealous of your alcohol intolerance, to the point of remarking upon it: "oh, that would be so awesome to get drunk on two drinks..!!!" also, at one point, you will almost KNOCK OVER your second one, but catch it at the last second, with your cat-like reflexes. and then your friends will laugh that benihana is going to send over their security ninjas to kick you out. "you're cut off."

and then you'll go home and type up a blog post that you will have to make 6,000 corrections to, because you are too drunk to type right.

THAT, friends, is why never-ever drinking is a good idea.

also, beth, we should TOTALLY go to benihana when you're here, 'cause, like, YUM.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
  I gots a new niece!

Did I say that already? I am so out of it without the beloved laptop.

Anyway, I have a new niece! Her name is Kalia (said like Kaliyah) Elise. Kelli had her on Friday and went home from the hospital on Monday. I talked to her on Tuesday and she sounds like she's in love: "Kalia is a little honey." Kelli wanted a girl really bad but thought she was having a boy - she had opted out of finding out the sex from the ultrasound, so was working on instinct. Everyone else thought she was having a boy, too. So this was a big surprise. After the C-section, she was all groggy, and kept asking, "Are you sure it's a girl?" :)

I guess Kyle is just in love with her, too. Kelli was worried he'd be jealous, but instead he's just a good big brother. Gets all concerned when she cries and stuff. Too cute.

I'll be going home to see her and the rest of the family in August. Hopefully I'll be able to resist the temptation of stealing her.

Actually, hearing Kelli had a little girl - this happened in Bimini - made me realize even more that I wanted babies. Now. Of course, it can't happen now, so I'll be patient, but ahh!

Thinking about it over the course of a few days, I came to the realization that having kids with Chris will ensure that I will never be the favorite parent. Seriously, Chris is just so sweet and patient... Then I thought, "But hey, the dogs follow ME even when he's home." But then it hit me that they only do that because I'm the one that's more generous with food and treats. I don't know how well that will work on kids.. I mean, you can bribe kids with candy and stuff when you're an aunt (it is a tactic that has served me well), but it probably wouldn't be so wise to do that as a parent. Health of the kid and all. Ah well, I guess second place isn't so bad.

I was also thinking of this thing that Maggie Mason said, which stuck in my head long ago: "When I was single, I decided I wouldn't marry a man unless I could be proud if we had a son who turned out exactly like him." Let me say, although I've always been partial to little girls, the idea of having a baby Chris makes me very happy. :)

And now so you can all have an "aww" moment (all three of you):

Baby Chris!

How cute is this kid???

Alright, enough of this hormone-fueled post. Back to regular programming... Hey, did I mention that Oreo pissed on the dog bed the other day? :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008
  Friday dive site

concrete ship, originally uploaded by estacey.

Did I mention we're going back for 4th of July weekend? :)

  Yay Bahamas!

AIR, originally uploaded by Marco Graziani.

We left Friday morning. Smooth water (well, reasonably smooth) on the way there.

We went diving Friday at the Sapona. I got a nice pic of that wreck before, which is sticking out of the water. It's super-super shallow... Most people just snorkel it. But it turned out to be a really, really nice dive. I got pictures, so I'll have to post them.

We swam back to the boat underwater, and while inspecting a conch shell right by the anchor, I noticed that not only did it have a conch in it, but there was a SEA HARE hiding next to it. In front of our anchor, so it would've dragged right over them. Eeeeh! I so don't like anchoring, for this reason. So I lugged the anchor to be in front of them underwater so we wouldn't hurt 'em. And I was so delighted that I got to see another sea hare - I had only seen one once, on a night dive in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, years ago.

Yesterday we got up later than we should've... I didn't have much sleep the night before and Chris always is too nice with letting me sleep in, so yeah... Anyway, got out on the water finally. It was beautiful. We went on a dive at Tuna Alley. The current was ripping, so it wasn't as relaxing as I like it, but it was still interesting, as dives always are. The safety stop was a bit tough, having to hold onto the mooring line. Chris had gone out in the open water to do his and he started to get pulled away from me, which made me nervous, so I held out my hand. I was holding the rope with one hand and his hand with the other. After about a minute of this, I had to point to the rope so he'd grab on since my arm was ready to pop out of its socket. CURRENT. Finally we got back in the boat and I discovered that something stung Chris - bad. He had a burning rash on his arm and shoulder. He thinks it's from the rope on the way down. Again, CURRENT. (You normally don't hold onto anything to go down, but it was necessary this time.) I'm buying him a skin.

He was dived out at this point, on account of his burning-hurting arm, so we decided to go to Honeymoon Harbor, which Joel The Boat Guy had told us about when we stopped in the shop on Thursday. He said there were lots and lots of stingrays there and that they were tame. And GOD am I ever happy he told us about it. There were lots of boats there, as he warned there would be... One was a party boat filled with binge drinkers... Girls standing on the boat pouring alcohol into people's mouths in the water. REALLY loud music. But it was so gorgeous we didn't even get annoyed. :) We snorkeled around.. Stingrays were EVERYWHERE. I guess people feed them there, which explains why they come as close as they do. I didn't have any shrimp, sadly. I stayed in the water until all the heat was sucked out of my body.. EASILY an hour. Probably more like two. Ever the dear, Chris went back to the boat to check the weather as it looked like it was going to rain, and then just hung out. His attention span for looking at hermit crabs is much shorter than mine. Later, he said the boat looked so nice since he cleaned the outside of it off. "When did you do that?" I asked. "Back at Honeymoon Harbor." Cleaning his boat off so I could continue to paddle around in the shallows.. SUCH a love.

There were conch shells everywhere that I was checking out... Fish hiding in some, crabs in others, in the very shallow water there were actually CONCHS, and even an OCTOPUS in one. So cool! Often when I would look up from peering into a conch, I would realize that a stingray or two were RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Waiting for shrimp, no doubt. We saw lots of rays even from the boat, and a really cool shark I have to look up.

It was nice. I fed the fish half our oatmeal and some bread and bits of apple and I loved it, maybe more than them. While I was rinsing our breakfast dishes in the water this morning at the marina, the sergeant majors came up and were swimming IN the bowl to eat the leftover bits. It reminded me of Gretchey. :) Then they nipped my hands, a bunch. It was fun and funny, even though it was a tad startling.

The water today was super calm, so the ride back was a million times better than it was the last time. And we managed to avoid the thunderstorms, too, so yay!

Pics to follow soon. Hope to get that computer in shape this week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008
  A trip postponed
This morning Chris woke up at the crack of dawn to check the water... Not only was it rough, but we were due for thunderstorms, like, all day. So Bimini was postponed.

I was happy to get to go back to sleep; I had gone against my very recently announced 1-dog-only-in-bed rule and let ALL of them sleep with us (plus Oreo!). Yeah, that rule lasted, like, one night. The dogs are usually really well behaved, but on the nights they're not, I suffer. Last night they all kept getting up. Then coming back to the bed. Licking my face. Getting comfortable. Getting my hopes up about going back to sleep. Then getting up again. And Sebastian would never get back in bed himself; I had to lift him, or he'd sit on the floor staring at me and whining. Dead-lift of 30 lbs from a laying-in-bed position is not that easy. So I was up for a good 45 minutes in the middle of the night with them... Thankfully eventually Maggie was sleeping on my pillow, Gretchey behind my legs, and Sebastian at our feet. Oreo on the side of my head. They were all tucked in and obviously so was I, and we all got to go back to sleep. (Aren't you jealous you don't have a goddamn zoo??)

Anyway. So while it was nice to sleep late, it sucked sitting here all day with everything already done. Chris and I got some stuff done today, at least, but I would have rather been in the Bahamas.

Now we're hoping for a launch at 6 a.m. tomorrow. The forecast looks good, knock on wood.

Tonight, Buddy is staying over. He is such a handful.. keeps chasing the cats under the bed and barking and stuff. So tonight my one-dog-only rule will definitely be in effect. (Well, maybe just two.)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
  It keeps raining and raining and raining...
All damn day. We're trying to get ready for Bimini.. I was going to load the scuba stuff on the boat while Chris was at work. But I tried to wait out the rain and the end never came.

I did get the food. I got a new regulator - $250! That was just about the cheapest one the had, but I lucked out and at least it JUST went on sale from $450. It even rang up as $450. It seems a lot more solid than my last one, so maybe this one won't go kaput from one little dive of death at Gordon's Rocks. I got ice. I got everything together. But it's all sitting by the door, waiting to be toted to the boat... Rain, rain, go away!

Talked to my sis today. She's excited about GIVING BIRTH to a NEW PERSON on Friday. Yay! :)

I went to WFM today and ran into the store manager, who had adopted one of Oreo's kittens. I asked how he was... When he was a baby, he was a PITA, apparently. LOVED the dog and, well, the feeling wasn't mutual. So I asked how the kitten was doing. "The same," he started. "I'm sorry!" I said. I decided to not show him the fresh scratch on my arm from Oreo. Oreo & Kitten have been fighting A LOT lately... Nowadays it's Kitten's turn to instigate. So before I left to go shopping, I flushed Kitten out of the bedroom with a treat and set Oreo on the bed. I said, out loud, "See how much I love you? I got Kitten out of the bedroom so you could have it to yourself!" And then I reached out to pet her. She swiped at me and drew blood. Is it possible that that is the way she shows appreciation? Yeah, probably not. I do hope this guy's cat is a bit better behaved, at least.

Being summoned to the garage......
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
  Missing my Fluffy, best cat EVER

Fluffy got huge., originally uploaded by estacey.

I don't know why I got to thinking about him tonight...
But do I ever hope he's OK.

I still figure that he must've just walked into someone's house, the way he did mine. (And my old neighbors', I learned.) Ate their dog's food, rubbed against their leg and their dog... and with that, made himself a new home.

Otherwise he would have come home.

I just can't stop kicking myself for not being a better cat mommy; if I had been, I'd still have him. I got too comfortable with the fact that he would come home... Which was fine, before we moved.

I pray he didn't get lost... isn't hungry... isn't the tiny cat he was when I first started feeding him.

I like to think that the people who have him saw my LOST CAT posters and decided he was such a good cat that they'd keep him anyhow. (Seriously, if you knew this cat, you wouldn't doubt that at all.)

I just hope, hope, hope, hope that he is happy and healthy right now. He was absolutely the best cat... I hope someone appreciates him for that.

  Reminder to buy body products at Whole Foods
Apparently some scrubbing cleansers contain tiny PLASTIC beads.

Article at Slate explains how this harms marine life.

I may actually have one of those products in my shower... I used to get everything at you-know-which store, but since I stopped working there and getting the discount AND, you know, having an income, I have embraced the drug-store brands. Dove instead of Jason, etc.

I went to B&N last night for an evening of browsing and there were all these go-green books in my beloved nature section, so I went through a few of them and got some really good ideas. And learned how many gallons of water per two minutes in the shower you use (ten). The shower was always my guilty pleasure... I stay in there forever. But after everything I read last night, I decided I should stop being such a schmuck, so today I turned the water off for my lathering-up and shaving and conditioning and all that stuff.

Now I read that my cleansers contain polyethelene beads. Jesus. Maybe it's time to start shopping at WFM again, just for peace of mind; you can basically buy anything off the shelf there without having to do research to see if it contains any of this bullshit. Also, I should start using bar soap. I love the shower gel stuff, but when I think about all the plastic I'm throwing away (well, recycling, but still)... It's not worth it.

Speaking of marine life (we were, weren't we?), Chris and I did a dive on Sunday. I discovered that not are my fins busted, but my regulator as well. Galapagos sure did a number on my equipment, eh? But we saw an octopus... I located him because there was a little crevice surrounded by shells. I figured out a long time ago that that indicates octopus; I think they must eat stuff and just toss the shells out of the crevice. This guy was not only surrounded by shells, but hiding in one as well. It makes me happy to be able to find stuff like that. :)

Also, I picked up a hermit crab, like, three times to look at him and the last time he pinched me - hard - and wouldn't let go. I couldn't get him off my hand! That teaches me to only bug them for one peek in the future. Anything I get after that, I deserve.
  Google Maps - Street View is too cool

Our place - on Google Maps, originally uploaded by estacey.

I was searching for directions the other day and noticed this "Street View" thing. I could click on each turn and it would show me the intersection. So cool.

Later, I did a search for our place. It actually showed the house two doors down, but you can press the arrows to go where you want. So here's our house! You can go across the street, down A1A... It's so cool. I'm a bit disappointed that none of the cats are rolling around in the driveway, like they usually do. The door is cracked on this picture for the cats. We don't do that anymore; they've all mastered the doggy doors at this point.

Oh, the computer... I gotta restore, which means I have to go buy this thing at Best Buy so I don't lose all my music & pictures. Yay. And re-install everything. Double Yay. So I am guessing the laptop will be out of commission for a while longer. We're tentatively planning a weekend in Bimini, depending on what the weather (Gulf Stream, namely) is like. I spent 3 hours on the phone with Dell today, so I'm in no rush to spend MORE time on this thing. For right now.

Monday, June 16, 2008
  computer broked
it has been since friday and i'm too annoyed to call dell. maybe today.

we have 3 others, but surfin' the net just ain't the same off my laptop...

so that's why i been so quiet.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
One more result for google, I guess.

I'm credited with a Photoshop Disasters submission. See? There, with the laundry list of other folks? :)
Thursday, June 12, 2008
  Making photography useful -

Galapagos prints, for my family., originally uploaded by estacey.

Instead of getting souvenirs for my family from the Galapagos, instead I had some prints made and framed them, with mats and all. I think they turned out pretty nicely. And will probably be appreciated more than a gift-shop trinket.

I had some other pics printed - a crab, iguanas, a tortoise - but figured that they would appreciate the cuddly sea lions and booby more than the silly things that I like so much. Those prints will be going up at my house, I guess. :)

  So much for the house plants...

  Product love
I hate air fresheners. Really bad. When Patty lived here part-time, she would plug in Glade things here and there around the house. I felt bad doing it, but the smell made me feel icky and sometimes would give me a headache, so I would end up unplugging them.

Well, a couple of months ago, our cleaning lady plugged a Glade air freshener in that room that was empty at the time. I walked in and reeled, then unplugged it, opened the windows, and went outside for air as I let the smell dissapate.

Discussing it later with Chris, he said that she probably did it because the house had a smell to it. Maybe the combination of animals... and the three litterboxes can't help. This, of course, bothered me greatly. I didn't want a smelly house! So I got some stuff for the litterbox (this great Arm & Hammer stuff) and set on a quest to find some air fresheners that didn't feel toxic to my system.

When I saw Method air fresheners at Target, I was hopeful. Unlike some other all natural cleaning stuff, the scented Method products were never overwhelming. There is that really popular product nowadays.. Mrs. Something-or-Other. I used lavendar-scented handsoap once at work and literally had to track down something to wash the smell off my hands, because the smell made me feel sick. And I usually like lavendar.

But Method seems better, so I bought two "aroma pills" and plugged 'em in. They're based on essential oils, rather than nasty-ass chemicals. Although the smell was so much better - they smelled NICE, rather than overly perfumey - they still seemed too strong. So we put them on timers - smart!

Lavendar and Sweet Water are great scents.

Now I've gotten used to them and actually wanted some more smell, so took the timers off. And I tried out their other products in a couple of other rooms. And I love 'em! Hopefully the house smells a bit better, too...

The aroma rings are in the kitchen and dining room:

The citrus cilantro is great for the kitchen.

And I had a cut-grass scent in the bedroom, in the form of aroma sticks, but this product I would have to advise against. The source of the scent is oil which you put in this little vase. Simple, electricity-free, and it looks nice. Only the oil will evaporate and the store doesn't sell refills. Grr.

So this was replaced with another plug-in.

Also got their wood polish, which has this wonderful almond scent. And I usually hate almond!

So anyway, check out Method products. They're great!
I met up with the tenant yesterday to collect the security deposit and the portion of this month's rent that they are paying. After two kisses on the cheek, he apologized. He said that I was totally, totally right. It's just that they were going through a lot - I guess this move is especially stressful - and they were too far into their problems to be able to see anyone else's point of view but their own. Once he thought about it, he realized that they were being unfair.

They had apologized before for blowing up, but made it sound as if they were paying this month's rent just to appease me. I feel much better after this apology.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
  Funnay, and NSFW

I love PhotoShop Disasters. This one is particularly funny.
  Gretchey licked a poison frog this morning.

She was at Patty's. We got the phone call at 6 a.m. or so. Patty said she was foaming at the mouth. Chris, thinking quickly despite having just woken up, told her to hose Gretchey's mouth out. Patty did, and Gretch stopped foaming, but she kept licking and licking her lips. Patty then took her to the pet ER and was told that she did well, and that Gretch was OK. THANKFULLY - dogs can be paralyzed or die from the toxins in the bufos here.

I went to get her from Patty's this a.m. and the big question all day has been, "How's Gretchey?"

I think this picture illustrates that Gretch is back to her usual self.

She went swimming earlier today, and just now I heard some rustling in the kitchen so ran out and found that Gretchen decided to clean out the bottom of a cat food bag and got her head stuck. She was running around the kitchen with this thing on her head. The camera was in reach, so I snapped this before I pried the bag off.

Gretchen didn't seem relieved; she only wanted the bag back so she could make sure she got all the crumbs out.

Yep, she's back to normal.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I am so damn sick of the computer. Sick, sick, sick.

And yet, I can't stay off of it. Why? Because it's too useful.

Buy my niece's gift, order pictures, look up the number to the groomer... It seems like every other minute, I'm cracking open this green laptop for something. Even when I'm sick to death of it and want to ignore it... Something comes up.

Damn computers.

And I'm STILL stuck on here because my sister's birthday is on the 14th and I have no idea what to get her. I went to Target to browse and left with two bags full of picture frames and other goodies... for ME. As for my sister, I give up... yet have to plod on. Find a gift. On the computer. Sigh.
Monday, June 09, 2008
  Thank GOODNESS the appointment with the groomer is tomorrow.
Just in time: The word "ass" just became a verb in our house, e.g. "I think Maggie assed on the couch."

  Buddy is SO SMART.

Buddy is SO SMART., originally uploaded by estacey.

The previous tenants of the condo left this there, so we brought it home. Chris asked Patty if she wanted it, but she said no because Buddy would bark at it.

Soon after, Buddy, who was visiting, noticed this dog. He started running at it, jumping backwards scared, and barking at it. He ran in circles around it, barking.

The other dogs sniffed at it, but he did not disappoint in acting Buddy-like with it. :D

Friday, June 06, 2008
  Sexism Sells -- But We're Not Buying It


  Ahhhhh... and AHH!
I'm only a couple of weeks away from the start of school.

Chris had asked me, when this big long break commenced, what the hell are you going to do with your time? I said I'd figure something out. And I have. :)

And, really, it's been pretty good. I was on an awful schedule before Galapagos, but since we've gotten back it seems that I have to go over to the condo for something every single morning, so I'm forced to not live vampire hours. This morning I had to be there by 8 to let the painters in. And then they didn't show, so after like a half-hour of reading on the papered floor, I left the door open and went on my way.

So anyway, today I am just contemplating how nice this schedule is. Instead of having to fit all this other necessary stuff in around school and work, I can just do it. If I didn't have anything to do, it'd be another story, but with the condo and reorganizing the house, I have plenty on my plate.

Not to mention my laundry load. Seriously, it's insane. Wanna know why? Wanna know why I've had to change the blankets on our bed, like, three times this week? Why I have to wash the blanket on the couch AGAIN?

What I thought was a leaky vagina on Gretchey & Maggie turned out to not be, as Sebastian suffered it one night as well. Turns out dogs have ANAL GLANDS and apparently if you do not EXPRESS THEM, they will, well, express themselves. On your bedsheets, or on the blanket on the couch (TG for the blanket). So EXPRESSING THE ANAL GLANDS is on the to-do for the weekend. I have to have Chris watch an online tutorial... He was refusing to try until he could remember to bring some gloves home from work, though.

The other night when I figured out what was going on, I tried to figure out where the anal glands were on Maggie. You're supposed to be able to feel them. Kidney-bean sized bumps. Well, apparently I found it, as when I was pressing around the 5-and-7-o'clock area around her little butt... Well. Let's just say that the end result was that I ran screaming into the bathroom to change my shirt. And then had to take Maggie into the bathtub to hose her down & disinfect. And I huddled up in the shower myself and cried for a couple of hours.

Chalk one up to cat ownership.

So anyway, Chris is going to wear gloves. I am looking online for one of these:

Thursday, June 05, 2008
I was at Walgreens tonight and noticed this:

I had to laugh.. How fair is it NOT that we start getting wrinkles before we stop breaking out? So commonly that there is a mass-marketed product for it? Well, yay anyhow. :)
  Bedroom after

Bedroom after, originally uploaded by estacey.

It looks immensely better.

The BEFORE pic is on Flickr.

I'm really happy! Now we just need stuff on the walls!

  The previously empty room!

Living Room II, originally uploaded by estacey.

No longer empty!

Sad the dogs left their space to fight, but it sure looks nicer. Too bad we have to put sheets & blankets on all the furniture as it would look better without, but then everything would get dirty and furry.

  New batch of pics is up!

More sleeping..., originally uploaded by estacey.

More photoshopping tonight meant another batch of Galapagos pictures went up. :)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008
  Tell me if I'm unreasonable
These tenants, omg.

So these people are moving in the condo.

I've written about them before, I think. She wanted a $7k paintjob for the place, when all it needed was a $2k touch-up. And since we had said, yes, we'd paint the place, they were acting as if we should have to pay the extra $5k. To pay to paint all the ceilings, when they needed no work... We reached an agreement on that issue, thankfully, but not before yelling in person and over the phone. They're putting new carpets in and, in exchange, we're paying the first $4,500 of the paint job, which is going to end up being about $5,500, even with his contractor friend doing it.

Their lease starts 7/1. They said their furniture was going to be delivered in June, around the 20th. We said that was fine. The wife said she was coming down at some point in June, too... they have relatives and stuff down here, so I didn't think about where she was planning on staying. And I didn't really care. We had no problems storing the furniture at the condo for them and, heck, if they moved in a little early, whatever.

Well, I got a message last night that the husband is coming on 6/10, so please leave the keys at the front desk for him. Three weeks before they start to pay.

So when I called back, I said, okay, that's fine, but I'm assuming you'll be paying something for the month of June. The lady went apeshit, as I was half expecting. She was doing the thing again where she was yelling at me that THIS IS THE WAY IT'S GOING TO BE and I was going to listen. I'm like, uhhhh... yeah, I don't think so. If you want to be like that, then we can follow the lease exactly and you can wait until July 1 to move in. I didn't say this, mind you, but I was thinking it... The lease is the law, and if you want to be assholes, we can follow it to the letter. Again, I didn't say this, but I was thinking it. She ended up hanging up saying they'd pay from the 18th and on and then I would be the one dealing with all the furniture deliveries. I said fine, as I have been going there EVERY DAY since I got back from vacation anyhow.

The guy calls me back and starts yelling at me. I literally had to take the phone from my ear because he was yelling so loud. "If everything is going to be a problem with you, then maybe we should just find somewhere else to live," he said. I knew his wife had riled him up, but he seems pretty reasonable in the past, so I tried to calm him back down. I told him I wasn't TRYING to be difficult... It just seemed to me that if they were going to be there for 2/3 of the month, they should pay SOMETHING. We didn't realize we had to have the place whipped into shape by the beginning of the month... And, well, it just doesn't seem right. Does it? I mean, a few days early, that's one thing. But towards the beginning of the month before? Does that seem right???

We've already given them some allowances... First off, a price break on the rent, significantly less than they were paying last time. ANd we agreed that they could have it for the second year at the same price, which is a killer deal on their part. Second, the paint job. Third, we're fixing it up really nice - we just had the marble done (EXPENSIVE) today, we're having the cleaning lady come do a good job on it next week. He keeps bringing up that they're doing the carpets for us, but that's because they want those carpets. We've done plenty for them in return.

He pointed out that when they rented last time, they moved out 2 weeks early, and they didn't come to Chris for a refund for those two weeks. I said, dude, that's because you were in the lease until the end of the month! You didn't let us know so far in advance that we could rent it to someone ELSE during those 2 weeks, so why would we ever, ever refund your 2 weeks worth of rent? He responded, "Well, I could've let my friends stay there for the last two weeks." I said, AND THAT WOULD'VE BEEN FINE WITH US! It was your place, per the lease!

He said he was not coming on 6/10 for his sake; it was for mine. They had numerous deliveries coming over the course of the week, and didn't want to trouble me with them. And then he pointed out that it cost $150 to change his ticket to fly in on 6/10, and actually said that he didn't come to Chris expecting that $150, so why were we being so nit-picky about money? At this point, I basically asked him ON WHAT PLANET would Chris be responsible for his airline change fee?

I was on the phone for an hour. He accused me of being "the problem" since he never had problems with Chris. I reminded him that last time they rented, they tried to get out of the lease when it was but half over, to move back to Montreal. When Chris said, fine, but you'll lose a month's worth of rent, they backed out. And at this point, they tried to get Chris to lower the monthly rent. !!! They were in a LEASE, folks. So I explained to him that that is why I was the one calling, not Chris; he doesn't want to deal with tenants anymore.

Eventually, it got to the point that, after mini-conferencing with Chris while the guy held on the line, I told him that this was not worth the headache. We could refund their money and the place would sit empty or we would rent to someone else; honestly, we didn't care.

Whether because of what I said or because he had time to calm down and think as I talked with Chris, his tone changed. We eventually worked out that he is paying 1/3rd of the monthly rent and can take possession on the 10th. I think that's totally fair... I would've settled for less, but I did think that they should make some sort of offer of funds if they were going to move in so early. The dude made sure that there were no hard feelings before he would hang up. I said all was fine. I didn't call with the intent of getting in a fight, but what can you do when they just start yelling and not listen?

I mean, in all honesty, Chris would have probably just let them move in to avoid the argument, so maybe I am the problem. But I think that they've gotten their way enough already, and Chris more than agrees... For them to continue to set the rules, however unjust they were to us, was just not going to happen. And it is not a good precendent to set for a two-year tenant. Moving in a few days early.. Heck, even a week early... That's one thing. Easy to let slide. But stretching that out into getting nearly a full month's rent for free is really taking advantage of the situation. And there is nothing I hate more than feeling that someone is trying to take advantage.

We hung up in a friendly manner, thankfully... With his advice to just agree to anything his wife says in the future and then call him and deal with him. I am thinking his wife is often difficult.

So tell me, readers, if you got this far -- am I being unreasonable? Would you ever expect someone to give you 2/3 of the month for free?

Oh, the wife did call a bit later to apologize for yelling and all that. She said she starts screaming and then feels bad about it afterwards. I said it was okay. But damn. I sure hope we don't have any of these tiffs in the future, because it's far more stressful than it's worth.

Wow, venting feels GREAT. :)
  so sweet
i'm on the computer, doing my usual morning online routine (flickr, blogs, nytimes, email).

maggie was jumping all over me until i sat down, at which point she laid on the floor closeby.

i noticed her scooting over. closer to me.

a few minutes later, she scooted again. again, closer to me.

with another scoot, she was touching my foot. apparently that was her goal since now she's laying peacefully.

such a darn sweet dog, it kills me.
Monday, June 02, 2008
  View from the condo balcony

Ocean view today, originally uploaded by estacey.

I basically forgot how much I liked living by the ocean until the past couple of weeks, during which I've visited Chris's condo a bunch. Last night, the ocean was a bit angry and you could hear it from inside, with all the windows and doors shut. That used to be a constant sound. Then today, look at it! Super calm. I just wanted to jump off the balcony and run in the water with my clothes on.

Of course, living in a condo also means dealing with security guards and condo commandos, neither of which are conducive to that "home" feeling.

And that is a fact I have to strongly remind myself of every time I look off this balcony at those slowly lapping waves.

maaaaan, this weekend.

so the moving guys moved all this furniture from the condo to the house. we didn't have time to organize here, due to vacation and being sick once we got back, so they had to pile everything in the big room and the garage.

once saturday came, we got working on putting everything in its place. swapping out our bedroom furniture for the new stuff. swapping out the twin-size beds in the guest bedroom for the full-size ones from the condo. switching mattresses on the other bed. hauling mattresses and nightstands out to the garage. we worked all day saturday on it.

saturday evening, as i said, byron came over. that was a nice surprise! apparently he was going to be driving to orlando from here for a concert, but that fell through, so he was in town for the night. he ran into chris at the supermarket across the street, and actually recognized him due to all the pictures i put up of chris online. hee. :)

i should've gone to bed early, but i ended up taking a before-bed bath... i had been all sleepy, but the bath woke me up so i sat in there until the water got cold reading my new book. about queen elizabeth. i'm a nerd. i think i went to bed at 4.

today we hauled a bedroom set up to patty's place for her spare room in order to clear a little bit of the garage out. it may fit a car again someday yet!

it's after 3 now. at 9 i meet the marble guys and the painter over at the condo. i get to ride my bike there, probably, since the battery on the truck is f'd up and needs to be replaced. i told chris i'm going to valet the bicycle.

funny: i've gone to the condo a dozen times in the past couple of weeks, in the tundra. today we went in the corolla -- the really old corolla -- and the valet asked me what unit i was there to visit. NEVER had they asked me anything of the sort when i was driving the tundra. then the guy recognized chris from when he used to live there. then he probably felt silly, caught in his discrimination of poor folks driving corollas!

anyway, this has been a LONG weekend, but wow - what a difference. we have attractive bedroom furniture now! i love it! the big, empty room - the dog fight room - is now fully furnished: couch, loveseat, chair, coffee table, entertainment center. the one guest room has been totally redone. we gained a huge entryway mirror and table, lounge chairs for outside, two TVs, and lots of pictures. all this stuff, chris's, but being used for tenants at the condo. crazy!

anyway, now i sleep. after a bath. hope i don't get too caught up in my book in there...
Sunday, June 01, 2008
  Dive at Gordon's Rocks

Galapagos Barnacle Blenny, originally uploaded by jedah77.

This is very long, but I like to document stuff for my own memory's sake. So here goes my dive report.

I didn't do much diving in the Galapagos, but this was a memorable one. Chris had warned me that this dive had a lot of current - a lot - and that you basically just descend and find a rock to grab onto, then watch things swim by. The description did not disappoint.

So, we descended, and thankfully there were rocks everywhere so it wasn't too hard to find something to latch onto. A few minutes later, our divemaster, Ruly (nickname for Raul as he was a Raul, Jr.), motioned that we should swim out, away from the safety of the rocks. I followed, but omg.

My buoyancy was so off since I was really struggling with my weighting. See, when you dive in the Galapagos, you gotta wear a much thicker wetsuit than you're used to. I went from my normal 3mm to a 7mm wetsuit, with hood and all.

Diving at Gordon's Rocks
Bundled up! I don't usually wear a snorkel as they very much annoy me. However, on a dive in waters like this, you kinda gotta suck it up and wear one anyway. In case you get separated from the boat or something. (Which also is why I have a whistle and safety sausage, neither of which are part of my Florida gear.)

The more mm you have, the more buoyant you are. Also, the water in Galapagos has very high salinity, which adds even more buoyancy. So you add a bunch of weight onto your belt (or your pockets, in my case) and hope you have enough. On the checkout dive, the panga drivers had lots of extra weights along so they could pass them over to divers who hadn't taken along enough. I had him hand me, like, three weights. I wouldn't sink without them. Since I didn't get any chance to work out the kinks with the weight over the course of the week, I was still trying to figure that out on Saturday's dive at Gordon's Rocks. I had dropped a full 3 lbs the day before, after feeling much too heavy on the dive, and thought that would do it, but I was still too heavy at Gordon's Rocks. Trying to compensate with air in my BC was slow-going, since I didn't want to overdo it. My formulaic add-one-puff-of-air-right-before-I-hit-the-bottom plan from home didn't work there, to say the least.

So anyway, we're out in the water and I'm HEAVY. I am trying to add air but not too much. It's a major struggle to just stay at 50 ft, since I don't want to sink down to the bottom at 70. Also, I'm uncomfortably vertical in this struggle, it seems, and feel short of breath from being sick. Yay.

This is when Ruly points out the hammerheads in the distance. This is cool. I finally get enough air in my BC to hang out without kicking with all my might. This is good.

Then we swim back to another section of rocks. The current is strong, but not THAT bad. I start looking at the rocks in front of me, and realize that lots of the empty barnacles are filled with the barnacle blennies I had spotted in the Galapagos fish ID book from the night before. This makes me very happy as they are ADORABLE. Look at 'em! I love me some grumpy-looking animals.

Diving @ Gordon's Rock
Holding onto the rocks, staring at fish, probably much like the one at the top there. Chris laughed when he showed me a series of five or so shots in a row, since he likes to make fun of me for always looking at the small stuff (and risking something really cool swimming by in the process). "There's you, staring at a rock. This one is of you, oh look! Staring at a rock!"

At some point, Ruly motions for us to follow him again. We start to swim and the current, I dunno, picks up? All of a sudden, although I'm trying to go straight, I end up being swept to the right. I look over and see that I will at least hit the safety of rocks again, and that I'm not being carried out into open ocean. I try to swim straight, but honestly the current will not let me. I decide instead to let myself be carried to the right while trying to swim a little, and know I can pull myself ahead on the rocks.

We hang out for a bit longer. Again, Ruly asks us to follow him with a motion of his hands. This time, as the current is so strong, only a couple of people try to follow him. The rest are creeping along the rocks, not venturing out into the current as they know it is pointless. This isn't small current, the kind you can swim against; this is the kind of current that carries you away. Chris was ahead of me and told me later that even Ruly gave up on swimming and came back to the rocks.

Gordon's Rocks
Gordon's Rocks, from the boat. On the dive, we were swimming around the foundation these peaks.

As we head back in the direction we came from, the current is insanely strong. There were gaps in the rocks, so I would have to let go of them to follow Chris and the rest of the group. In between the rocks, I wasn't swimming so much as BEING LIFTED, like falling. I would scan the rocks in front of me for a good place to grab. I started hesitating when I thought of all the things living in the rocks, which made everything more difficult. At home, I touch NOTHING, so changing my mentality to GRABBING while diving is a big change, and unaccepable when eye-to-eye with the little faces of the barnacle blennies.

Yet, I don't have a choice, so I try to pick the best spot I can without touching anything I shouldn't. While following in the current, I realize that the longer I am in the open water, the faster the current takes me, so I have to grab onto every rock that I can to slow it down. You let go for 5 seconds, you're moving fast; but if you let go for 10 seconds, you are streaming at a frightening pace. Having to grab onto the rocks for dear life sucks, especially after one of them had something that seemed like an anemone of some sort. I pulled my hand back and shook my head and there I decided that I did not like this current. All in all, I'm pretty sure we didn't really do any damage by touching the rocks... These fellas probably just sank back into their barnacle spots and waited 'til our gloves pulled away. But still, it was uncomfortable.

Chris and I sat out the second dive at Gordon's Rocks, as did most of our group. Only something like 6 of the 14 divers went back for a second shot. The English fella sat it out since he and his buddy literally got pulled away by the current on the first dive, and were hopelessly separated from our group. I think it was he that wrote "DIVE OF DEATH" under the Gordon's Rocks heading of the dry-erase dive plan diagram.

Gordon's Rock aka DIVE OF DEATH
The dive plan, pre "DIVE OF DEATH"

I didn't sit out the second dive because I was scared of the current or anything like that. It's just anxiety-inducing to be FORCED to grab onto rocks, when you are so worried about what you're grabbing. If the rocks had been devoid of life, no problem. But I didn't want another 50 minutes of being uncomfortable with what I was doing.

However, I am very glad I got to dive there, to experience what it was like. To experience current that lifts you and makes you feel as you're falling through the water, uncontrollably. It's an experience, for sure.

But wow, am I ever going to be feelin' chill and happy to be back in Florida waters when the ocean calms down, floating nearly upside down so I can stare at a google-eyed fishy that I have found - and no hands.

  it gets even better
(re last post)

i called my sis today and told her what i saw on myspace.

she said that wynne chose the name off of some chinese name website. (the dad is hmong, not chinese, so don't ask me.)

however, her boyfriend told her mom that, in fact, he chose the name. where did he get it from?

radon is a character on mortal kombat. the video game.

this is why children should not be allowed to have children, folks.
  Why MySpace is scary
I did a search for my niece tonight, who is about to turn 15. (15? Sniff.) She isn't on MySpace, as far as I can tell. (Phew.)

So then I did a search for my other niece, my sister's husband's daughter. She's on there. 19 years old and pregnant. This much I knew. That goddamn Souljah Boy song blares when her page loads. Jesus H.

On MySpace, it says that she is married. However, they had called off the wedding, that ne I was really conflicted about going to. Is there something she's not telling us? The reason they called it off is pretty hilarious, in a Jerry-Springer sort of way. Ay de mi.

Her username is uhh.. asianluvr something-something. Heh, well, I guess we do have something in common. ;)

Lastly, she announces that the creature inhabiting her womb is a boy. The profile says, and I quote: "My Baby boy Radon, i want him out right now!!"

Forgive me if it is some sort of teen-ager lingo that I am too old to grasp, but that sentence to me looks as if she is referring to her baby boy as Radon. RADON.

Now, coming off an evening hanging out with the OG Byron (he was in South Florida so he came over for dinner and a couple hours of shootin' the shit), during which we discussed the absolutely crazy baby names people come up with, I am thinking: PLEASE DON'T NAME YOUR BABY RADON. Please? I should probably send her a MySpace message to that effect.
I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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