Friday, June 14, 2013

What's Summer Fun?!

Proud of myself for finally ditching the winter wreath and hauling off the poor dead fern! LOL!!
Ahh . . . summer.

The word calls to mind turquoise swimming pools and sunshine glinting like diamonds on oceans lapping sandy shores. Summer makes me think of picnics and ice cream and watermelon. Planting flowers and reading on the shady front porch.

Um, yeah--if you're at Casa Altom, now's the time to make that annoying scratchy record sound, because so far, our summer has super sucked.

After more kid angst than even I could ever imagine--and that's saying somethin'--we've now moved on to a new window leak, hose spigot leak, fleas, and one or two ants in random places. Our nearly sixteen-year-old dog Sweet Pea just had tooth surgery and yesterday, all three kids managed to squelch any attempt at writing with minor medical emergencies that began at 7:40 AM with a trek to the dermatologist, then to the dentist, then the urgent care center for an issue EVERYONE knows to never call me for . . . I'm turning green just thinking of it!!  LOL!!

Knock on wood, but thankfully, everyone's healthy again and today has been selfishly, wonderfully all mine!!! It may not be very summer-like, but I've written a few pages, gabbed on the phone with my bestie, watched an episode of Lost, and even manged to cheat on my diet.

Great times, right? My fingers are crossed that any day now, even more summer fun will hit me like a truckload of yummy s'mores!!

How about you? Got anything awesome planned for June, July or August?


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Attack of the Plumber's Crack!!

It's been quite a week at Casa Altom, but then when is it not?! LOL! Out of dozens of minor annoyances, my "favorite" had to be the plumber.

We've lived in our home for eight years--I think.  Math's kinda tricky this early!  Anyway, during those eight years this is only the second time our kitchen sink has been clogged.  The first time, Hubby fixed the sink, but the plumbing snake knocked a hole in another pipe, which then exploded.  Not a good day!

This time around, sweet Hubby and Son valiantly plunged and Mr. Plumber'd, as did Daughter and I, but no way was that sink clearing.  As luck would have it, the dishwasher was full, as was the sink.  We'd just been to the store, so the counters were cluttered with dirty dishes, plus sacks of vegis needing to be washed for our fun new diet.  Time to call in an expert.

Said expert was supposed to have arrived in the morning.  By mid-afternoon, he finally showed.  And by showed, I mean displayed a bountiful buffet of plumber's crack!!!!!  After getting him a pan to scoop water, then towels, then locking up Cocoa and Daisy--he didn't like them looking at him--he next needed to use our bathroom, then finally fixed the clog.

Cocoa--Plumber Attack Dog #1
Daisy--Plumber Attack Dog #2
I got out the checkbook, thrilled I was on the verge of finally getting my house back!  At this point, I'd've paid double just to get the guy GONE!  But noooo, he stayed an extra ten minutes to give me a lecture.  Here's how it went:

Plumber:  Ma'am, I'm assuming you had someone else doing dishes for you lately?

Me:  Um, no . . .

Plumber:  So then, it was you . . .

Me:  I guess?

Plumber:  Well, ma'am, I was pretty sure you wouldn't make this kind of error . . .

Me:  Okay?  (Did he find a kitten down the drain?!)   

Plumber:  Ma'am . . . (He hitches up his pants.) I'm sorry to tell you, but you can't be putting all that rice and onion down your drain--or anything.

Me:  I thought I was supposed to put stuff like that down the disposal?

Plumber:  No, ma'am.

Me:  Okay?

Plumber:  And, ma'am, I'm supposed to charge you double for having used Mr. Plumber, but I'm not gonna do that, 'cause you seem real nice.

Me:  Um, thank you?

Plumber:  Just don't do it again, ma'am.  You're gonna melt your pipes right out of your house.

Me.  Okay.  Good to know.  (Now, give me the >*&^%$ bill and get the *&^%$%# out of my house)

When I finally handed him his check, I couldn't help thinking that was the best money we ever spent, because If I'd had to spend two more seconds with the guy, it wouldn't have been pretty . . .

At least in my rich fantasy life!  In the real world, at times, I'm far too polite--but working hard to change this habit when necessary!  LOL!!

Got any "fun" plumbing stories to share?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Transform Your Valentine's Day from Dull to Dreamy!!

My tulips and Valentine hearts!
Happy Valentine's Day!!

Hopefully, all of you reading this are planning a wildly romantic day with lots of flowers and chocolate and cuddling.  Around here, however, in the land of We Have too Many Kids in College, Hubby and I have decided to play this low-key.  He bought me lovely pink potted tulips from Neighborhood Market for $5.88.  I sent him a SUPER fancy emoticon Happy Valentine's text!!  I would say the cost was free, but considering our hefty monthly cell bill, that text probably lands in the $5.00 zone, as well.

While Hubby and I are perfectly content with our "wild" celebration--heck, the day's young, we might still go really crazy and have our fave Hideaway Pizza for dinner--for me being a romance writer, our blase plans feel a wee bit lackluster.

In honor of "Real" romance writers such Dame Barbara Cartland and Danielle Steel, I decided it might be good form to plan ahead for when the kids are finally out of school and I become wildly rich and famous--a cool $80,000,000 should suffice . . . (Listening, Writer Angels?!?!)

With bank accounts bulging, here are my Top 5 Valentine's Day Dream Dates:

Hubby and I chillin' on Bora Bora!! (Image:
  • Bora Bora--Hubby and I wake to find ourselves in the island's finest over-water suite!  We spend our day frolicking in dreamy sun-warmed water. Tonight, our toned and tanned gorgeous selves feast upon fresh-caught lobster and long, lingering looks of love . . .
Picture me and Hubby smack in the center of this hug fest!! (Image:
  • Rent a Zoo--Hubby stroll hand-in-hand through the San Diego zoo.  No one else allowed!!  A snack cart stocked with hot dogs and cotton candy follows discreetly behind us and alongside each enclosure, a zookeeper stands by to hand over sweet, furry bundles ready for plenty of kisses and cuddling!!  (I thought about taking a safari, but that would involve an awful lot of dust and bugs and actually having to find the cuddly animals!!  LOL!!)
Hubby and I debating our next move . . . (Image:
  • Treasure Hunt--OMG--a mysterious stranger arrives at our door, gifting us with a super secret mystery map that we're charged with deciphering.  In true, National Treasure/Fool's Gold style, we bumble our way to unfathomable riches in gold and jewels and priceless antiquities.  For dinner, we picnic on lavish seafood dips and sandwiches before making out atop a mound of Spanish silver . . . 
We're drinking the chocolate waterfall!! (Image:
  • Bring a Movie to Life--Hubby and I are at Willy Wonka's chocolate factory!!  We're ALL OVER this chocolate river!!!!
Our castle's a tad drafty, but we're warming it with love!! (Image:
  • Skiing--Before our kids were so d*mned expensive, we used to ski.  Now that we have unlimited funds, we're upping this sport to a whole new level by skiing the Swiss Alps.  Tonight, we're staying at this castle, feasting on dreamy-creamy soups and filet mignon and twice-baked potatoes.  Flaming-something for dessert!! 
Whew, I'm exhausted, but in a good way!!  LOL!!

All right, fellow romantics, how are you celebrating your special day?

Monday, January 14, 2013

MISSING: Charlie the Contractor!!

Daisy's exhausted from looking for Charlie . . .
Sing it with me, "Oh where, oh where has my little dog--er, contractor gone?  Oh where, oh where could he beeeee?"

December was quite a month around here.  November, too, for that matter.  We got the news that we're moving.  We were scared, then excited, then scared, then downright terrified when we realized just how much of a fixer-upper our home really is. 

With a To-Do list three miles long, we assessed the projects we could handle ourselves, then started hiring.  According to our realtor, granite counters are a MUST.  Granite installed--check.  According to our realtor and HGTV, neutral walls are a must.  Yellow kitchen now beige.  Green accent wall in bedroom now beige.  All clutter must be gone--still working on it.  One must focus on curb appeal.  The list went on and on and on . . .

Our house is a 70's-era architectural fantasy with insanely high, pointy ceilings and custom-everything.  Back in the day, it was built for a doctor who had deep enough pockets to afford bathroom sinks from Portugal.  Alas, with three kids in college, our pockets aren't deep enough for McDonald's!!!  If anyone happens to have a spare Portuguese sink that'll match the old one from the downstairs bath that needs replacing, but we can't find one the same size, please give me a call at 1-800-MY-HOUSE-IS-A-NIGHTMARE!!!! (Sorry for the grammar horror story of the last sentence.  Feel free to rework!!)

But I digress, back to the REALLY big projects like replacing the deck and drywall repair, we hired Charlie the contractor.  He's a likable enough guy and when he shows up, he does nice work.  Key words being--when he shows up.

Lovely view from our kitchen window . . .
The last time we've seen Charlie was when he stopped by asking for a check two days before Christmas.  With a half-finished deck and yard littered with construction debris, I gave him a little cash, but nowhere near what he's still owed.  It's now January 14th and our deck project has been frozen like a crime scene.  Every time the phone rings, I'm expecting the neighborhood association prez to be calling, asking when we anticipate the mess being gone.

I called Charlie last week.  Here's a recreation of our convo:

"Hi Charlie.  This is Laura Altom--remember me?  The one with the deck?"

"Oh, hey girl!  I was just thinkin' about you, but lost your number.  I haven't forgotten you.  We've just been REAL busy.  But, hey girl, now that I've got your number, we'll be right there."

A week has now passed.  Still no sign of him.  Prior to Christmas, he was at our house every day for two weeks.  Did he also forget the location?!?!

Even better news--after all the work we've done, we're now NOT moving.  Sigh . . .

Lucky for me, Charlie's just my contractor and not my Baby Daddy!!!!!!!   How about you?  Got any contractor nightmares to share?