Saturday, September 6, 2014

First Day of School and a Few Other Stories

After two weeks of school, I'm finally posting first-day-of-school photos. Enjoy....

Allyson with Mrs. D, already dearly loved

Wearing her thrift-store sequined blouse and the vest from her birthday

First-Day-of-School ice cream, which Ethan likes almost as much
as Last-Day-of-School ice cream (but not quite)

Ethan, Bill, Allyson, Meggie

I was proud that Allyson chose her thrift-store blouse, a souvenir from our recent Hill Country vacation, for the first day of third grade. She's most excited about the after-school clubs this year, including art and drama, as well as theater class once a week. I'm sure her acting career will really take off this year. 

Can you believe little Ethan is now a senior? Neither can I. He's growing up so fast. Last week he announced he wanted to apply for a job. He'd heard that a favorite hamburger joint was hiring, and I drove him over one evening to apply. "What should I say?" he asked.

"Just say, 'Hello. Are you accepting applications?'" I advised.

So that's what he did, while Allyson and I watched from the car. Every day, Allyson asks if he has turned in his application, and I tell her, "No, he hasn't filled it out yet." One step at a time.

A Little Arwen News

And now for an update on our sweet kitty, Arwen. She has become much more social, wonderful company for me. She no longer hides from all visitors, and occasionally she even lets them pet her for a moment. 

She is also an accomplished hunter. It's not uncommon to find dismembered bug parts in random spots. I always cringe but then wonder why it's not that gross to see a bug leg on the ground. Any other kind of leg would be revolting or even horrifying, but when I see a bug leg, I think, "Oh good. It's dead." And, "Where's the rest of it? Ugh." 

I shudder to think what's down my shower drain. Every chance Arwen gets, she nudges the shower door open and knocks the cover off the drain. Then she crouches over the hole, standing guard for up to an hour at a time. 
My shower isn't quite as dirty as it looks.
Let's say it's the bad lighting and the shadows.
And the cheap plastic floor that's impossible to clean. 

Sometimes she pokes a paw down there, and sometimes she puts her nose into the opening.

One morning a few weeks back, I came across a small grass snake in my kitchen and almost fainted before I realized it was dead. I left it there, waiting for Ethan to wake up and dispose of it for me. In the meantime, Arwen carted it off to the garage. 


When Ethan woke up, he said no way was he going to touch a snake. So my cousin Jenny, who was visiting from Indiana, bravely knocked it into a dustpan and threw it away in the kitchen trash. Ugh!

30-Second Hero

Lately, I've gotten into several scrapes, so much so that I'm beginning to think there's no point making plans because my day so often goes nothing like I planned it. For example, a couple weeks ago at 11 PM, my garage door wouldn't close. This was a true disaster because Arwen's litter box is in the garage, and we want to keep her an inside cat. My kind neighbors Neil and Steve came and screwed in a loose bolt, and then Neil fixed the garage door opener the next day. And then this past Sunday, Neil jump started my car... twice. (It turned out to be just a dead battery, thankfully.) 

The biggest emergency happened yesterday. Somehow, my master bathroom door got locked with no one in it. At first I blamed it on Allyson, but then I remembered going in the bathroom after I'd dropped her at school. So the culprit had to have been me. 

I wasn't too concerned at first. In fact, I saw it as an opportunity to learn new skills, remembering my friend Gentle's encouragement about that when I was newly single. First I poked a paperclip into the hole on the knob, and then the tip of a ball point pen, and then a small screw driver (at the suggestion of a coworker that I was having a phone meeting with). 

Nothing I tried worked, and I was getting anxious because I needed to brush my teeth and change clothes before a lunch date with one of my neighborhood friends. (My closet is inside the bathroom.) So I texted Kim and asked her to give me a couple more minutes.

I raced over to Neil's house and rang the bell, Thankfully, he wasn't busy and was happy to rescue me yet again. He'd had plenty of experience with picking inside locks, so this would be a piece of cake. Only it wasn't. He worked on it for 15 minutes with several implements he'd brought over, including an even smaller screw driver. 

Kim was on her way over, so we agreed to try again when I got back from lunch. While we were eating, Neil sent a text about locking himself out of his own bathroom, which had the same type of knob, and then easily opening it with a homemade slim jim. "I want another opportunity to be a 30 second hero," he said. "Call me when you get in."

He worked on the knob another 20 minutes or so while I worked at my computer. He even took apart another doorknob to reverse engineer it and figure out how to pop that lock. All of his efforts were to no avail, though. 

"You know," I mused. "I've always wondered if it's as easy to break a door down as it looks on TV." 

"You don't want to do that," he said. "The door would be expensive to replace." 

"Oh, come on," I urged. "It would be fun." 

"No, I'm not going to break your door." 

His next idea was to call our other neighbor over. Steve had the "key" that had come with his own bathroom lock. Yay! 

...But it was the wrong size. Steve took off to get ready for work, and Neil tried all the tools one more time before admitting defeat. Finally, he asked if I'd mind him knocking the doorknob off if he promised to replace it. 

"Go ahead," I said. "I really need to brush my teeth." (By now it was 2:00 in the afternoon.) 

So I covered my ears and watched him bludgeon that stubborn knob with my pink hammer (compliments of Gentle, who had painted it for me and put it into a cute little toolbox which she'd decorated with an S). 


Neil apologized several times and said he felt like a failure for not being able to open that door, but I assured him that this had been quite an adventure, though I rather wished I'd been the one to smash the doorknob. 

Not only did Neil replace the doorknob a couple of hours later, but he even went to Home Depot to buy it for me. Now that's a good neighbor, and a two-hour hero. 

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