Wednesday, December 19, 2012

and I did it...

In 2009 I went to a local Christmas Bazaar where I saw these beautiful Christmas wreaths made with clusters of glass bulbs; mostly vintage.  I loved them!  So I bought two!  We were a part of the Romeo Christmas Tour that year and I thought they were a nice addition to my decorations for that event.

I looked them over really well and thought to myself, "I could make one of these".  So, I went to my first Estate Sale and started my collection of vintage bulbs.

After making a few of these types of wreaths and posting them on Facebook, I was prompted by some of my Facebook friends to have a class to show everyone how to make them.  

I had been debating whether I would get involved in Christmas craft shows, but decided I'd try this class idea out first.

So, over that following year, I had started frequenting after-Christmas sales, Estate Sales and Resale Shops.  I was able to get a good supply of glass ornaments, garland and trinkets.  I bought a bunch of Styrofoam wreath forms and glue sticks from Micheal's, buying them one at a time using either a 40% or a 50% off coupon.

I got up my nerve and I invited the ladies that are my friends on Facebook and I had my first class (really my second, as the first was a one-on-one with my Daughter-In-Law).  Seven ladies attended and I must say, it was a lot of fun.  I was amazed at how pretty and how different each wreath turned out.
Manuela's Peppermint Wreath.

Jordan's Silver & Gold she made for her mom.

Dawn's cooler toned Blues, Golds and Silvers - originally made for her MIL, but she kept it for herself :)

Debbie's Silver & Gold.

Jill's Technicolor wreath.

April's Greens, Teals and Silvers.

Kelly's "Victorian" with light Pinks, Golds and White here and there.

So, my second class with two ladies and my third with my three nieces...I think I taught that class in my PJ's ;)  And I still had plenty of bulbs left and the inclination of having more classes at the end of 2012.
Deepa's Blue & Silver.

Diana's Multicolored wreath she made for her mom.

My beautiful nieces!:
Cate's Coat of Many Colors wreath.

Erin's cool-toned Blues & Greens, with a dash of Whites & Golds (my granddaughter in the lower right).

Sammy's Pinks, Burgundy's and Silvers.

Again, during the year I visited some Estate Sales and Resale Shops.  My goal is to only spend up to 10 cents per bulb.  It doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes I get such great deals, it cancels the larger purchases out.  I would say that I still average 10 cents a bulb.

When I started making these wreaths, I used all the bulbs that I would get, even if they seemed like they were very old and might be worth something.  Last year I started really looking at them and trying to figure out if I could sell some of them on etsy or eBay.  I will update you in another post about one sale in particular that happened just last week.

When I buy the ornaments, I separate them out by size, solids, embellishments, shapes, whether they have a twin, triplet, etc.  I put them in paper grocery bags and bins for easier picking.  Sometimes when I go to Estate Sales, they want to sell me the whole box of Christmas decorations, so I go through the full box and also put things aside that I will donate to the Salvation Army or give away to my family or to people on Craigslist.

This year I only had time for two classes.  The first one in November and the second one last weekend.  The class sizes are getting smaller due to the fact that I am only preying on my Facebook friends...and you only have so many of them.  I think I am going to see if the local community center would be interested in my holding a class or two there next year.

Yes, Sammy again, but this time she did Teals, Greens and Whites (both wreaths are for her!).

Samantha with her Golds and light Pinks ~ she made her first one for her mom and this one is for her and her now house.

Peggy with her Reds and Whites (her shirt matches!).

Corena and her Patriots (Football Team) colors.

Anyway, it's really been a fun experience and the nice thing is the price is low, I supply all the materials, Jerome makes snacks, the ladies get to spend some quality time chatting with each other and creating...and by the end, they have a beautiful wreath to take home and keep for themselves or to give as a gift.
Dianna and her Reds and a mixture of other colors.

Jan and her Pinky, Tealy, Creamy wreath.
...I have my favorites :)  Didn't they ALL do a GREAT JOB?!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

life a.d....

...(after dad).

Dave Brubeck died yesterday.  One of dad's favorite jazz artists.  He was 11 years older than my dad.  Maybe dad will be able to hear some good music now in the great beyond.  One would hope.

I've gained nearly all of the weight I lost at the beginning of the year.  bummer.  I attribute that to depression.  The weight loss to dealing with dad's sickness.

I have bouts of mournful tears.  Always when I'm alone.  Like now.

Things are happening that make me feel like we don't have much time on this earth, such as my change of life...a.k.a. pre-menopause.  First time I've missed my period since pregnancy.  I'm the youngest!  How can this be?

What is dad missing now that he's gone?  Some news, I suppose such as one grandchild got married, two grandchildren bought houses, his wife is starting to forget stuff.  Nothing too monumental.  Oh, Barack got reelected, he would have liked that.  He'd be upset that I've gained the weight back.  He was always such a "weightest" (like racist, only for fatties).  My oldest sister has that same affliction.

Life goes on...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

getting ready for dad's memorial...

The past year was chaotic, strange, emotional, exhausting, many other adjectives.

Chaos and uncertainty ran rampant around the time of my father's death.  There was a lot of family anxiety about what was best for my dad.  We didn't all strife and anger would be other good words to describe the last few months before my dad's passing.

So when my dad did finally die, things were not done the way it would have been done normally.  And I was not there.  

He didn't get a viewing; not a normal one anyway.  He did not get a funeral.  He was not honored properly at the time.  There was even confusion as to where his "cremains" were to be laid to rest.  Yes, my parents had it all figured out before his death, had all the plans bought and paid for, but once the death actually happened ~ confusion was the order of the day.

After the dust settled, so to speak, a more thought-out plan emerged; we would have a memorial later in the summer.  Mom thought August would work, but since I have two siblings that live out of state, it seems August was not great for them.  I sent out an email to all my siblings with all the dates from August through October and the only date that was good for everyone was October 13th.  This date I felt would be good since it falls on his birthday week.  He would have been 82 on October 10.

So, we've been planning the Memorial for the last couple of months.  I've sent out Evite invitations to most people and those that are not on the internet, I've sent them a letter in the snail mail.  We've reserved a room at the same restaurant that my parents had their 50th Wedding Anniversary party and we've reserved the Chapel at the cemetery for our version of a service.

I've been busy scanning every photo that I have of dad for the slideshow that we plan on playing on three iPads around the room at the restaurant.  It seems to me that in recent years we hardly had him in pictures unless it was a holiday.  So, I have a ton of him opening Christmas presents, a bunch from the weddings of his children but even more from when he was a young man and just married.  I'm totally not done yet...I still have a bunch of photo albums of my own to go through and then the family albums and his Army stuff.  One thing for sure, he was a handsome man...and my son looks JUST like him.  

They kind of lead parallel lives, at least the younger version of their lives.  Both had a troubled youth that neither of them would like to admit.  Both have a way with their perspective of reality.  Both have very charming personalities and very likeable qualities.  Both joined the Army when they were young.  Both got married young.  Both married very strong women.  Both started a family young.  Both were "given" the opportunity to make some pretty good money.  Both worked very long hours with plenty of overtime.  Both loved cars.  Both worked on their own cars.  Both are artistic.  My son and his wife are about to buy their first house and my father and my mom had their house when they were quite young too - however, my mom and dad received their house as a gift from my grandparents (on my mother's side).

Well, back to the Memorial.  My mom asked my sister's husband Bill to be the main speaker at the "service".  I personally think that this is a good idea.  Bill is a great speaker and I think he will eulogize my dad very well.  Then it's open mic, in the hopes that others will be able to have a moment and say what they would like to say.  I believe my oldest sister wants to say a little something.  We only have an hour at the chapel, so I hope that everyone can get to say what they want.

I have assigned my middle sister to make the Memorial card, you know the one that you usually receive at the funeral home. This will have a photo of him and maybe an image of one of his paintings, plus all the other stuff that goes onto one of these types of cards.  This needs to be sent to the printer soon, so I hope my sister has something for me soon...

In between the "service" and the dinner there will be about 3 hours to kill.  Some people, like my mom will head home and take a little nap.  I plan on taking some of my father's cremains to the canal and tossing him in there.  He loved the water and he loved that house.  It still baffles me as to why they sold it.  I know that dad couldn't make it up the stairs any longer, but the house had a living room on the first floor that never got used, so that could have been converted into his bedroom and there was a bathroom on the main floor too.  But that's my opinion and no one asked me.

Well, very soon there will be in influx of family to the area and we have some people staying with us.  I think the influx starts on Wednesday and ends on the following Wednesday.

We've only got a few more loose ends to tie up and then we're ready.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

it's ours...

  ...Along with a balcony that needs to be fixed and an AC that needs replacing.  All ours!

We met with the tenants over the weekend to have them sign the lease and to collect the first month's rent and security deposit - WOO HOO!  That was easy :)  We let them stay there for two and a half days rent free.

So the red outline in this photo is the part of the building we own.  There are four units in this building.  I dream that maybe one day we'll own the whole building - I'm sure it's just a dream.

It's our first house that we own outright!  No mortgage to pay!  Only taxes, insurance and HOA fees.

And with any luck, we are 3 months away from owning the house on Riverside outright too! And then all the rents that we collect from both places can go toward the principal on the house we actually live in.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

apartment hunting...

That's what my husband calls it.  I guess that is what they must call it in Europe.  They are so cute with their words, aren't they?  They also call the backyard a "garden".  I like it!

After my cousin from Belgium visited this summer and it was revealed that she and her husband own 20 or more "apartments", a couple of buildings in their city, a couple of shoe stores, some parking structures and a giant pig and potato farm...she's only 10 years older than me.

This must have gotten Jerome thinking.  Because late June he announced to me that we should look into buying an "apartment" to rent out.  Something small enough that when people move out, it won't take us months to turn it around and get another tenant in.  And by apartment, he means a condo...not a detached, but an attached so that it won't require outdoor maintenance.

To me, this is an interesting request as I have always been under the impression that we will be moving to Europe...someday...but it was always within "two years".  So, this was a little out of left field for me, but I'm down with it.  I rarely give him a hard time when he considers something because I know that he has thought about it a lot before he mentions it and may have even done some research.  I'm more of the spontaneous type, for instance becoming a feral cat care-giver, TNR'r and kitten socializer.

Well, anyway, the prices for "apartments" are still pretty low and affordable ~ but we found out in this process that we are really a year late for the really good deals.  Condos such as the ones we were looking into were going for $15,000-$20,000 last year.  So, again, we missed the boat.  But this is also a good sign, is it not?  Housing prices are rising :).

We started our search at the beginning of July after I had gotten in touch with our realtor.

After looking at 15 or 18 condos, all different sizes, locations, types...we were serious about four of them, but the first two that we were going to put an offer on, we were told that the current owner took it off the market because he was going to rent it out for himself.  Bummer.

A little side of the condos we looked at was in the same complex where our old tenant (that we had to ask to move out) had moved to.  We would have been serious about placing an offer on this condo until we found out that our old tenant not only lived in this complex, but her condo shared a wall with the one that we were looking at.  This wouldn't work out for us as we would continually be running into her and with the fact that she still owes us money for damages, this would have been a real thorn in our side.

We then found one that was just kinda awesome.  I would consider moving there myself.  We had to wait 14 days from the time it was listed because it was under the HomePath, which at first only looks for people who are buying it for themselves to live in, not investors.  We waited.  There were no offers, so we offered what was from what we had been seeing, Market Value...or maybe a little less.  They countered, but only came down from their original price by $900.  I guess that was a sign that we went too low with our first offer and offended them.  So we came up quite a bit, but then we were informed that there was now another offer on the table and that they would need our biggest and best offer.  We didn't go up much more because it really was already way above what all the other condos were going for and...they rejected our offer. boo-hoo :'(. 

The day we had seen this fantastic condo, we also saw a couple others that were interesting.  One already had renters.  That was the one that Jerome was really interested in because that would mean immediate income without trying to find a renter.  So, we moved on and put an offer in on that one.  They countered with a nice counter; they came down more than $5000!  So, that was pretty good and we accepted, contingent on what the inspection and condo by-laws had to say.

This past Monday we had the inspection and mostly everything was sufficient.  The only things that got dinged were things that we had noticed already ~ the AC was old (original for 1980) and not hooked up/not working and the balcony looked like it needed some fixing.  We had a chance to look at the by-laws while the inspection was taking place and it stated that the balcony needed to have a black metal railing, which this one did not.  So that would be an additional cost.  Then as we were just finishing up, the current tenants showed up.  This was good because we could inform them that we were buying this as an investment and we would like them to stay if they were interested; which they were.  They told us all about the current owner and how she was not a landlord; she wasn't taking care of anything that was going wrong, for instance the balcony.  Apparently there were bees living under the decking, so much that there was a ton of honey just dripping down the wall...the exterminator that the tenants called took care of that, but the balcony really needed to be replaced.  It was not up to code.

We went back home and decided to try one more time to get a lower selling price, but it was denied.  The current owner owes the mortgage, she owes the HOA back fees, she owes several years in back property taxes, there is some sort of "assessment" on the property that she has to pay off, so she really couldn't come down any further.  She also stated that she had the balcony fixed ~ but she must know that it was not fixed properly.

So, knowing all the facts, we went for it anyway and our closing is tomorrow afternoon.  We hope it was the right thing for us to do.  The tenants seem "together", so we're not worried about them.  We have a company out there to give us an estimate on the balcony and we still haven't heard how much a tear off and rebuild will cost...hopefully it's not too much, but in reality, this 2 bedroom condo with a garage is costing us nearly half the amount it did for our garage rebuild back in 2009.

With the rent at what it is currently (which we told them we would keep it the same for the first year), and after taxes, insurance and HOA fees, we hope to see a return on our investment in just over six years.

By the way, over the weekend we did our bi-annual inspection on our other rental (we call 251) and we were very pleased.  He has a new girlfriend living with him and the place looks very cute, nicely decorated and clean, clean, clean!

pain in the neck...

In May, I started going to see a massage therapist, Vicki.  I've been having some major pain in my shoulder blade and neck for some time now.  Jerome is tired of having to use his elbow on my shoulder blade every night; it was just so constant.  Also my lower back, but I'm so used to that pain that I don't even consider it any longer.

After a few visits, she suggested that I go see a chiropractor and she gave me a name.

I've been seen by a chiropractor in the past, but could never afford the amount of time or money the chiropractor said it would require.  Back in the day, insurance would never cover this, or if it did, it would only cover a few visits.  The problem I have would require a heck of a lot more visits than insurance was willing to pay.

Well, it was just so nagging that I finally decided I would try it. It was either this, or I was considering going to a surgeon again.  After a full evaluation, they told me that I would need to come in 3 times a week.  I started that regimen immediately.

I've been going regularly since August 20th and I can't believe the relief I feel!!!  REALLY!  I'm not one to ever jump on a bandwagon or tout someone's credibility unless it's truly deserved.  I can actually move my head from side to side without a sharp pain.  I haven't had swelling or pain in the base of my skull for a couple of weeks.  I am rarely having headaches.  It's really amazing!  My lower back will probably never completely reset, but it's feeling better as well.

I can tell that if I were to stop right now that it wouldn't take long before everything would go back to abnormal, so I will keep up with treatment for as long as they say I require it.

The doctor told me that I'm adjusting well and that I only need to come in twice a week now.  I have my re-evaluation on tomorrow morning.  I wonder what they will find?

Monday, August 27, 2012

nine years...

Today is our ninth anniversary. And we still like to hang out with each other. Amazing!

How will we celebrate? I think we're done celebrating...we had our annual party earlier in the month, we had a hot air balloon ride last weekend and we went to see a play at the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea yesterday.

The play was "On Golden Pond". It was funny and touching. Jerome thinks we'll be like them in our golden years. I asked him who he thought the crabby one would be. He thought the old man was not crabby, he was funny and he thinks he will be like him.

Good to know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

up, up and away...

While we were visiting family in France last year, we happened upon a hot air balloon flying rather low over the vineyards near my in-laws house.  We chased it for awhile.  We all agreed that seemed like a fun thing to do and wondered how much something like that would cost.

Just before Christmas, Groupon had a deal for a ride for two in a hot air balloon, so I bought it as a Christmas gift for Jerome...and ME!

I'm not one to like heights at all but I figured that he got me to ride in a float plane when we were in British Columbia, so how bad could it be and besides, when I fly in a plane my favorite part of the trip is the take-off and landing, only because you get such a nice view.

Jerome was very excited about the gift and we called to make our reservation in May.  Unfortunately, there was a family emergency for one of the pilots on the day that we had chosen, so we had to reschedule.  We ended up rescheduling three more times because of the weather.  They won't go up unless the weather is perfect - which is a good thing.  As one pilot said "you'd rather be on the ground wishing you were in the air rather than the other way around".  So true and wise Mr. Pilot!

Well, we finally got our chance this past Saturday and WOW! It's REALLY COOL!

We were the first to arrive at Captain Phogg's Balloon Quest and we were surprised as more and more people began arriving.

We watched as the helpers pulled out the baskets, the bags with the balloons in them and the gas powered fans.  The launchpad was right there and three balloon were on their sides being filled with air from the fans.  The baskets were on their sides as well.
We went inside and signed our waivers.  I think that was the scariest part.  So many things could happen (and obviously have for it to be stated on the waiver), such as falling out of the basket while you are up in the air, landing in water and/or just a rough landing...YIPES!  I don't think Jerome wanted me to read everything because he was rushing me to sign and hand it over to him so he could turn it in.  We then watched a little video about ballooning that they made in the late 80's.  Very dated clothing and hair, but the message was still current.  We are of the rare few that actually will have gone up in a balloon.  How many people do you know who have ever gone up?  They guess that we would not know anyone that has, but like I said, this was made in the 80's, so nearly 3 decades have passed.  But anyway, I only know of 2 others and that was only found out recently.

We were assigned our pilot and our balloon and asked to go out and wait by it since we were ready to take-off.

Our balloon had 13 people (including the pilot).  The basket is sectioned off; 2 sections for 4 people, 2 sections for 2 people and then a section for the pilot in the middle.

Once the balloon was sufficiently filled, we had to climb in.  There are cut-outs in the basket for you to use as steps.  And then up we went!

It's slow, the weather is fantastic, the visibility was more than 50 miles, the winds were at 9-13 mph.  Just gorgeous!  It's mostly quiet and serene...until the pilot runs the burners and then it's loud and hot.  If you're not ready for him to use the burners, it is a bit startling...every time.  Not that you move any faster, it's just that you're not expecting this loud noise behind you and the rush of hot air on your head and the back of your neck.

We were heading north east and could see Mt. Holly, Chrysler Tech Center and even the Renaissance Center in Detroit in the distance.

We flew over mostly wooded areas, some farms, lakes, houses, I-75 and the Renaissance Festival on its opening day.  We are up for 45 minutes to an hour depending on if we can find somewhere to land.  We were told we were as high as 4000 feet and we were as low as nearly touching the water in the lake.  We floated on the tips of the trees, feeling the branches go by below our basket.  We even grabbed some leaves.

We landed in a field that hadn't been tended to in quite some time.  The chaser van met us and we deflated the balloon and packed it away for its next flight.  I think he said we flew 9 an hour.

Once we were back at Captain Phogg's, we enjoyed a small glass of champagne and received our certificates and a pin.

I remarked to Jerome that it's funny, we go to places like the CN Tower or Sears Tower and they have you encased in glass with nets below a balloon, you are all out there, wind in your face, no nets and the basket comes up to just above your waist.  Crazy.

I dreamt about it last night, and not the way I dream about flying in a plane - this dream was pleasant and relaxing.

It's really cool people - it's one of those bucket listers that should really be done.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

happy birthday house...

Today (according to the carving in the brick), our house is 65 years old!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

where were you when this happened?...

I am borrowing this tid-bit of information from Cup of Zup:

On this day in 2003, a major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. Beginning at 4:10 p.m. ET, 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes. Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as Toronto and Ottawa, Canada. Although power companies were able to resume some service in as little as two hours, power remained off in other places for more than a day. The outage stopped trains and elevators, and disrupted everything from cellular telephone service to operations at hospitals to traffic at airports.

Where were you?  What did you think was happening?  What did you do while the power was out?  Do you know of anyone who had a baby 9 months later?

I was at work, sitting at my desk at Jeep Truck Engineering in Detroit.  I was chatting with my cubemate, Dwayne.  The next day (Friday) was supposed to be my last day with this department; Jeep Chassis.  I had been laid off, but given the opportunity to stay for an additional two weeks ~ thanks Greg.  Luckily within the day that I found out that I was going to be laid off, I was able to use my networking abilities to obtain a new job in my old department; Truck Interiors (by the way, the best job I've had so far, by far) ~ Thanks David R. and Dana W.  And was able to work it out that the new job would not begin until after I returned from my honeymoon.  I was getting married in less than two in-laws (every last one of them) were going to be flying in from France in less than a week.  The wedding party was going to be in our backyard and so we were in the middle of a home improvement project; laying a brick paver path that led from the driveway to the backyard.  So, we really didn't notice too much that the power was out.  Luckily we didn't need power to lay brick pavers.

Back to the day that it happened, we sat there in the dark for a little while and then finally decided to leave work.  Walked out to the car which was parked in the back 40 and turned on the radio to my favorite talk radio station to listen to Deminski and Doyle (they are now located in NJ).  They were running on generator power and were talking about what could have possibly happened.  By that time it was already determined that this was not a terrorist attack, which I could see why people would have thought that - and even I had that thought cross my mind for a brief moment.

Now, I needed to get from Plymouth Road and Schaeffer in Detroit to Harper and Crocker in Clinton Township.  I figured this was not going to be easy.  I can't really remember if I decided to take surface streets or the highway, but either way I got home safely and the trip was uneventful.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

runt o'the litter...

The course of events (re: Hissy) have been the following:

June 14 - Stool sample detected round worm and coccidia parasite (all of the kittens had both of these). Meds were distributed to all. 

July 3 - Spay day for Hissy! She was checked for FIV and Feline Leuk. Also given an inoculation that would require a booster in 6 weeks...and did I mention, she was spayed.

Had previously noticed that her chin was always crusty and then found out that whenever she scratched her face, she would cry. Checked it out and she had open wounds around her nose, whiskers and on her chin. Brought this to the Vet's attention and she was prescribed amoxicillin and antiseptic wipes for her face. They took a skin scrape to see if she had a fungus or ring worm or mites. They wouldn't know for 2 weeks while they grew the culture and would call us when they found out. Also at this time I asked the Vet if she thought little Hiss might have Cerebellar Hypoplasia since she was shaky and had no balance. She did not believe that she had this and thought she will grow out of it.

Hissy took the antibiotic for 10 days and had to wear a cone the entire time because she was still scratching at her face.  Michigan Humane Society called after 2 weeks to say that she was all clear; no mites, no fungus and no ring worm. Hummm, what is it then???


July 24 - Took her to my Vet (Dr. Hoonhout at Stony Creek Vet) for her booster shot (which also included the FIV and Feline Leuk vaccine). She screamed and hissed when the doctor gave her the shot. He was surprised because he said that shouldn't hurt her. He prescribed a Lime/Sulfur "dip" because he did a skin scrape on her and thought he saw a mite.

She couldn't walk for two days without pain after the shot.  Around that time she seemed to stop scratching at her face (maybe because of the pain from the shot...?).

Waited for the Lime/Sulfur med to come in, but in the meantime she was all of a sudden lethargic and seemingly in pain. You couldn't pick her up without her crying out.

July 31 - At the same time, finally got the call from the Vet that the Lime/Sulfur dip was in so that's when I rushed home from my class and took her to the doctor. He said she had a bacterial infection ("cat scratch fever" - which I believe she gave to herself since she was scratching her face off and since the other cats have not been anywhere near her) and prescribed a different antibiotic and gave her a shot of antibiotic while in his office. She totally responded to the shot and we thought we were out of the woods but then she started feeling like crap again and was not responding to the antibiotics that we were giving her.

August 2 - I called the Vet and his advice was to up the dosage...which we did and that seems to be helping. 

As of Saturday night, she is VERY spirited and I hope that lasts. 

August 7 - Tonight is her last dosage of the antibiotic. Fingers crossed.

We have not given her the Lime/Sulfur dip because we think she's been through enough at the moment, plus she doesn't scratch her face off lately. The doctor thinks that her immune system is finally kicking in and that the booster shot helped it develop. He doesn't believe that she has Cerebellar Hypoplasia, so that is really good news. She is getting stronger and the shakes are gone, but the balance is still off.

All of this perhaps because she is the runt of the litter and from humble feral beginnings.

I am happy to say that my oldest sister and her partner are willing to adopt Miss Hissy, which is a LOAD off my mind.  They will be in town this week and will stay for a little over a week.  They live on the east coast and Hissy will become a Jersey girl and happily live with Sprite and Turbo.

so rustic...

Went to Massachusetts for my niece's wedding.  I was the "lead" on the decorating committee.  She had a "rustic" theme going; rustic and vintage.  I had a bunch of vintage items that we could use in the centerpieces, so I toted them along with me from Michigan.

I came a week early to help with anything and everything.  Boy! I needed a vacation day after that vacation.!

It was a beautiful ceremony held in my sister's neighbor's yard that overlooks Cape Cod Bay.  The reception was held at the Plymouth Center for the Arts where my sister works.  Also a very nice and fancy venue.

And at the end...they were married!

After all was said and done, we had a half of a day to relax before we drove the 12+ hours home.

they are very quiet...

While looking at a condo to buy as investment, the current owner was explaining the surrounding neighbors - "in this unit there is a married couple. The man is a mute...they are very quiet".

We've been looking at condos for about a month now.  Prices are still pretty low.  Looking at them for investment purposes.  It was Jerome's idea,...I think he was influenced by my cousin Simone who visited us from Belgium in June.  She and her husband have 20 or 30 "apartments" that they rent a huge farm and two shoe stores!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

re-homing success...

At first it seemed that I bit off more than I could chew with this feral cat and kitten socializing project that I self appointed.

It looked pretty overwhelming once the kittens were brought home to be socialized...I was trying to go by the manual, but sometimes I guess you've got to just wing-it.

There were six scared kittens in a cage in my basement.  The manual said they should not be in a sound-proof place but more in an area where they would encounter human activity and, I thought that perhaps the cage should be moved to the living room since that is where the most activity is.  Our house is VERY quiet normally and so I'm sure any house that these kitties move to will be a rude awakening for them.

Having the cage in the living room was not working on many levels; smell and litter everywhere and the inability to control the situation with so many kitties at once, just to name a few.  ~ Can you say "Chaos"! So, back to the basement went the cage.  BTW, not an easy task since the cage is HUGE and won't fit through a normal door, so that means it needs to be folded down, which means we have to somehow gather up the wild, afraid, squirmy, bitey, all claws kittens, put them in carrier and change their location.  This was not making life very easy for me and hubby, since it seems that he felt this was more my project than a shared one...and I was giving him plenty of work to do...perhaps more than his fair share.

Boxy a.k.a. Lil Miss
We had one really horribly frightened kitten we named "Boxy"...we named her that because she never came out of the little box we put in the cage for the kittens to play in.  Her little ears never came out of the pasted to her head position.  We felt that Boxy was going to make life very difficult for the others as far as socializing goes.  Thankfully I contacted the right person to help me out with Boxy. She took her home to give her more one-on-one socializing.  She told me that she had never encountered a kitten that was so feral and if this case study didn't work, then we would have to get her fixed and put her back with her feral mother.  Well, I'm happy to report that after a good couple of weeks of intense socializing, Boxy is now completely tame and has found her new home.

Mr. Orange a.k.a. Michi-gan
Eventually the "better" kitties got to graduate to the kitchen and then to our master bathroom.  Miss Hissy needed to stay separate from her siblings/cousins for about a week so that we could give her more direct attention.  She really wanted us to be with her, but would hiss at us each time we tried to play with her.

Pretty quickly Mr. Orange, Fluffy, Tiger and Foggy all found new homes...the only one that still needs to be re-homed is Miss Hissy-fit.

While we still had Tiger, Foggy, I had brought them to the vet to get neutered and from a fecal sample they were diagnosed with round worm and coccidia and were placed on meds for that.

Pretty much from the get-go, we noticed that Hissy was on the shaky side and didn't quite have her balance.  She is also the runt of the litter; a half a head shorter than the others and skinny.  I thought that maybe she would become more stable now that she was inside and getting food and water on a regular basis and her meds for round worm and coccidia, but it hasn't yet proven to be completely true.  I did a little googling about 10 week old kittens that have balance issues and saw that most of the links that came up had to do with Cerebellar Hypopliasia.  So, I checked it out on Wikipedia.  At the bottom of the page there was a YouTube video "This is Charley". 

Once I watched the video, I thought that it just might be true.  I have a vet appointment for Hissy on July 3rd for her to get spayed so I will bring it up at that time and see what they have to say.

According to some other things that I've read, it seems that because of this video, there are now waiting lists of people who want to adopt this type of special needs kitty.  I sure hope so.  I want to find her a very good home.  She has certainly come a long way...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

10.10.30 -> 6.6.12...


My dad passed away last Wednesday around 2:15pm.

I was on Mackinac Island with my cousins who were visiting from Belgium.  Not easy to mourn and host at the same time.  Didn't want them to feel too awkward.  And so, it really hasn't hit me yet.  I'm sure it will.

4 hour drive back home to drop them off and then another 30 minutes to my parents to see my mom.

He was on such a roller-coaster ride for the past 6 months; quick declines and slow improvements.  Trying to figure out what was wrong with him at the different times was always a guessing game.  It was either dehydration or infection...and it seemed to go from one to the other each time.

With infection he was totally out of it and with dehydration he was agitated and delirious.  What finally did him in was congestion it seems.  Perhaps it was turning into pneumonia...who knows?  Mom said he went without suffering - she just stopped hearing the gurgling coming from the bedroom and that was it.

So sad.  He was such a trooper.  Fighting for what little quality of life he had.  Lucky for him, when he was up, he never remembered the times he was down.  However, we did.  Whoa! what an emotional ride.

I am happy that even though the dialysis was somewhat against his will (at first), he still went and I went with him.  It gave me some extra time with him that was lacking in my older age.  We watched movies and talked about some stuff like his dentures, the Army, mountain climbing, etc.

He only got crabby at the end; pretty much the last two or three times we went to dialysis.  He DID NOT LIKE GOING!  Waste of time - boring - it's not home - he'd rather be painting.  And having to wait for the EMS to pick him up and the possibility that they would be late, it drove him NUTS!

We had a family viewing of him before he was sent to be cremated.  My sisters came in from NYC and Boston.  We will have a "Celebration of Life" for him on October 13...the weekend after what would have been his 82nd birthday.

Love him.  Miss him.  This is hard.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

patio set with benefits...

Last weekend we purchased a cute little patio set from Lowe's on-line.  Two chairs, a sofa and a side table + a couple of raised beds for our future veggie garden.

If you buy on-line at Lowe's, in some cases they give you free next day delivery.  In the case of large items like this, it's wonderful for us because we have small cars and the last time we purchased some outdoor furniture from the Home Depot, we had to rent a truck for $19.

We saved nearly $100 by doing the following:

First we purchased Lowe's gift cards from Kroger.  Kroger is currently having a deal on their gift cards; you get 4X fuel points for each dollar spent on gift cards.  In this case we received 1400 points which translates
to $1.40 off a gallon of gas.  We both have 12 gallon tanks, so that means we'll get $16.80 off our next fill up.

We purchased the gift cards using our Speedway MasterCard.  We get 10 points per dollar spent, so we received 3500 points in this transaction which will add $3.68 toward Speedway fuel gift certificate.

We purchased off of the Lowe's website by first going through the website called EBATES.  They give you a certain percentage "cash back" by going through them first when you place an on-line order.  In this case, we received 5% cash back by going through them first to connect to the Lowe's website.  This resulted in $17.30 that we will receive in "big fat check" form from EBATES next quarter.

Finally, I scored a 10% off coupon for Lowe's, so that was the final $34.60 off the total amount of our purchase.

If you include the $19 from not having to rent a truck, or even our own gas that we would have used, we will receive in some form or another (immediate savings, gas or cash back) $91.38 for our time and effort.

And the furniture was delivered to our house in less than 24 hours.  We placed the order around midnight the night before and the delivery was around 1pm.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

feral kitties ~ project tnr...

I have been planning this since I first saw the email from the Michigan Humane Society at the end of March. And really, it's been on my mind since we first noticed the feral cats at our rental property back in October and once I saw that two of the kitties were pregnant this spring, it was really nagging at me.

The email didn't have anything to do with feral cats; it was about a program for sterilizing pit bulls in Detroit. This is a free service provided by the MHS. I figured if they do this for pit bulls, perhaps they would do it for feral cats as well. After calling them up, I was directed to the person who runs the program and yes indeed, they do sterilize feral cats for free; they have funds to sterilize up to 1000 this year.

My husband and I went to the workshop, got the materials which included some forms for our neighbor lady (whom we will refer to as "R") to fill out, since she is the real "caregiver" of the colony - we are just considered "surrogates". The form R had to sign explained what was going to happen; that she would need to stop feeding them the day before the trapping, that we would be allowed to bring humane traps onto her property and trap the live animals. Bring whatever amount of cats that were trapped to the MHS for sterilization and then after a 24 hour period of observation at our home, bring the kitties back to her house and set them free.

I had been in touch with R several times to go over when it would happen, what would happen and what she needed to do. I had dropped off the traps prior to the day of trapping so that the cats would get used to them being around.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because Murphy's Law...If anything can go wrong, it will. Not to say we were not successful, we were! At least semi-successful. Is there a Murphy's Law about trying to work with senior citizens? If there isn't, there should be. Something like You agree to a total plan and the day of execution, the senior changes her mind about nearly everything....I'm sure there is something catchier than that, but you get the gist.

Alright, here's the story...

Dropped off the last two traps that I had purchased from MHS on Thursday evening after I picked up the large dog kennel from my friend Joan.

R and I again talked about when to stop feeding the cats. She was hoping it wouldn't be Friday because that was her 89th birthday and it would make her feel badly. I told her it would need to be Friday night and she seemed disappointed.

I had told R a few times prior to that I would call her the day that she needed to stop feeding them...but since we already talked about it just the day before, I figured that was good enough. Not that I didn't think about her and that the plan from before was to call her, I didn't do it because I didn't want to question her intelligence...we had just the day before talked about this whole thing, so I figured she "got it". My bad.

Saturday morning I got a wake up call pretty darn early. It was R. She was asking why we weren't there yet. I explained to her that it was that evening that we would set the traps and the next day we would pick them up to bring to MHS. She was concerned because she had already stopped feeding them. And in a tiny old lady voice she said "and the kittens!". I thought quickly and told her to give them a little something but then that's it. I told her that I should have called and she said "yes you should have". Yipes!

We arrived around 7:30~8pm to set the traps. R nearly met us at the car and said that she didn't think she wanted us to use the traps, she had brought two of the traps into her house so that we wouldn't use them. She thought that she could coax the mama cats into her house and pick them up and put them in the traps herself.   She told us that the cats occasionally come into her house and will sit on her lap and she felt confident that they would allow her to place them gently into the traps.

I knew this wouldn't work, especially since our tame cats will have nothing to do with the pet carrier, let alone, I would think, a live trap, but after looking at Jerome's expression, I begrudgingly changed course and said OK, we'll just concentrate on trying to gathering up the kittens.

This proved to be much more of a task than any of us had expected. Once the kittens suspected that we were after them, they scattered in all directions. It was ridiculous, even our tenant who was getting his motorcycle ready for a nice drive was cracking up listening to our attempts.

It took an hour or more...and I had to call in for backup; my son Justin.  He had some experience with trying to capture a wild raccoon a while back that was on our property and unfortunately had a tin can stuck over his head, so I called him.  Jerome and Justin ended up catching 3 of the 8 wild kittens, Jerome caught 2 of them on his own and then with Justin's help, the third.

In the meantime, back at the ranch...R was coaxing the adults into her house to try and get them into the traps. There was chaos everywhere. At one point I looked over at the house and Beta was climbing the height of the front door, screaming to get out of the house.

Once it started getting dark, we knew that we could do no more as far as kitten capture...I looked over at R and said, "we really need to use the traps".  And with a swoosh of her hand, she halfheartedly agreed.  So, we quickly set up three traps; two in the backyard and one at the side of the house. We put a dash of wet stinky cat food at the end of it then we put long beach-type towels over the traps.  It is said to calm the animal once it is trapped and I think that it would be intriguing to a cat to go into something that is like a cave.

Then we left...knowing that we'd be back there at 7am.  We needed to bring the kittens to their new temporary "socializing" home.

Next day; up and at ' the neighbors by 7am-ish.  As soon as we pull up I notice that the towel is no longer on top of the trap.  I say to Jerome "she's just going to do whatever she wants"...

R meets us outside and says in a quiet voice "the kittens are in the shelter sleeping, you can probably catch them all easily".  The shelter is made up of one of those storage tubs in which R cut a hole into the side and placed a warming lamp so that they would be warm during the cooler months.  We brought in the large cat carrier and lined up the carrier door with the entrance of the homemade shelter.  There were four kittens sleeping in the shelter.  We opened the top of the tub and pushed the kitties inside the carrier.  Out of four kittens that were sleeping inside, one escaped but we were happy to have the three.

We put the carrier in the car and go investigate our traps.  We walk over to look at the first trap, the one that is missing the towel and quickly learn that we're wrong...the towel isn't missing, it is just torn to shreds and pulled into the trap.  There were scraping marks in the dirt.  Closer examination of the empty trap showed traces of blood and the trip totally bent all to hell.  There is a bloody footprint on the top of the trap that looks like a raccoon or similar...what ever it was, it was able to get out of this trap!

The 2nd trap was tripped without successfully capturing anything...however, the third trap; our original trap had a nice little surprise in it: Delta!  Thank God we got one! + the three additional kittens, which means that there are still two more.

We took off to get to our scheduled appointment at the Detroit Michigan Humane Society on Chrysler Drive in the D.  We got there a few minutes before the doors opened (at 8:15am).  We met up with the MHS Sterilization Programs Coordinator, filled out the paperwork and admitted Delta to get sterilized!  Happy!  Need to be back by 11am to pick her up.

Now to take these three kittens home and put them with their siblings in the kennel for intensive socialization.

I drove back to the D and picked up Delta, got her paperwork for sterilization and 1 year rabies shot, took her home and placed her (still in the trap) into the storage area above the garage that I had previously set up with newspaper and pieces of wood to set the trap on in order to keep her above the newspaper, just in case of bathroom incidents.  This is where she stayed until the next day, when I would drive her back to R's house and release her.  We fed her in the evening and put a water bowl in the trap so she could drink a little.

Monday was a particularly busy day.  Now that I have the kittens, we have to have them come out of the cage and play with them, feed them, etc. a couple of times a day.  Time consuming and not the easiest since they are not happy to be there and they are all teeth and claws when you try to get them back into the cage...a nearly impossible task.  I started the laundry and did some quick cleaning, I went to my 15 minute massage and did my Meals on Wheels route, back home to pick up Delta, drive 45 minutes to her home to release that time R came out to check to see how Delta was doing and watch the release.  I told her that the next TNR event is at the end of June but we would like to capture the kittens before that.  She told me that she actually would like to keep these kittens with her; she doesn't have anything to do if they are gone - that's fine, only now we have two more to trap.  She also mentioned the orange kitty and that "Genie" really wants it.  I told her that kitty still needs to be socialized and once it is, then Genie can have him.

Afterward, I headed to my parents to help with my dad and dialysis.  Still hadn't eaten anything so while dad watched a movie, I went to Olga's Kitchen and tried to contact Genie to see if she was interested in the kitty.  She is and told me that she is fine if it is still "wild", because she and her son can train him.  She also wasn't sure if she wanted the orange one or whichever.  We made the date for Saturday for her to come by the house and pick out the kitty - so I hope she does.

From dialysis I had a doctor appointment for my foot.  Turns out I have a spur on my heel bone and that's what's been giving me the trouble.  Finally back at the house to do some more socializing and also I had decided that I wanted the kennel in the living room rather than the basement since there is way more noise and activity in the living room.  So we moved the cage, only having to get the kitties out and into cat carriers was drama in itself.  Some of the kitties just are not having an easy time of it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the end of an era...well, sort of...

Before anyone gets too worried, my dad is doing well.  This post is not about his condition.

This year I decided that when it was time to renew my tags (April), that I would not renew my personalized license plate.

This decision was for a few reasons. 

We originally got the plate because we were so active with our MINI Cooper Club and it was our nickname that was coined by our club-mates.  We are no longer quite so active.  Things happen, certain people suck (actually "person") and drama is not my preferred choice of activities.  We've pulled away,...not completely, but that might be in our future.

Then, sometimes I feel that when you have a notable car (MINI Cooper) and then on top of that a memorable license plate, it sort of makes you an easy target (not sure target is the correct word here...) for police activity, such as speeding tickets.  Or even angry drivers...let's say you mistakenly pull out too quickly in front of someone and they not only remember your car, they also remember your license plate...Like I was telling Jerome, when we have our car wear bunny ears for Easter or antlers for Christmas and we decide to take a road trip to Florida - it's sort of hard to hide yourself in traffic if you happen to be doing 5 or so miles over the speed limit and encounter a police officer. Blammo! They've got you!

Yeah, it's sort of like that.

Finally, I guess I'm saving some money as a personalized license plate costs $25 every year on top of the already large charge for the tags.  I am cheap, if you didn't know.

in the neighborhood...

Spent a couple of hours on Sunday at the rental.  We pulled up a portion of the pavers, filled the erosion hole with pea gravel and sand and reinstalled the pavers.

We found out that not only were two of the feral kitties prego, but a third and she was the first to have babies (last Thursday or Friday).  The name we had given her during the time we were working on our rental was Delta, and she's one of the short haired black kitties.  She had 5 babies.  The other two had not delivered as of Sunday 7pm.  Tonight is our feral cat class.

We asked the neighbor lady if she was OK with us having them neutered.  She was very happy that we would help her out because she just didn't know what she was going to do about the situation.  I hope we can help.

Went to the other neighbor and asked about the leaf pile and was greeted with nothing but kindness.  They will pick it up, they had planned to, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.

They told us about an outburst from another neighbor; one that lives across the street from our rental property.  He's a young guy, about the same age as my son.  His parents bought the house for him from the estate of the old lady who lived there for most of her life.  They got it for a steal; $40,000.  It's a really cool log house.  Anyway, the parents of this young man live down the street a few houses.  Now I think we are starting to realize that the location might have been for a reason.

I guess around 11:30 PM one night last week, the young man stormed outside and started shouting.  He would then storm back inside and outside again.  Then he got into his truck and started driving up and down the driveway like he was in a drag race.  Apparently the police were called and he was taken away for a couple of days.  According to our neighbors, this is the third time this has happened in the 4 years that they've lived there.

Oh what fun.