Tag Archives: Michiana House & Home Magazine

MHH Column May 2017: Siding suspicions

I have some concerns.           

      Two weeks ago, I noticed that the siding on my house needed cleaning. My esteemed counterpart and I made a pilgrimage to the hardware store to purchase a few bottles of “house wash” which could be attached to a garden hose. Sounds pretty simple, right? It’s a one-hour job…two at the max, provided you get right on it and don’t let anything distract you.

It is fourteen days later and I am watching as the nozzle of a rented, pressure washer is being hoisted to an open second story window by way of a 50-foot wet extension cord. Does anyone else see a problem here?

It was bad enough that the job had to be postponed the first week due to rain, but it was further delayed by Johnny-On-The-Spot’s procrastination skills. Not only did he have to watch a few Saturday morning cartoons and catch up on his online video games, but then he felt compelled to take his mother out to lunch and waste 30 minutes playing me snippets of the Beatles’ greatest hits.

“Look, I love you but seriously… either play all of ‘Hey Jude’ or none of it. Don’t jump tracks midway through. It’s hard on my ears,” I told him.

“I’m just killing time waiting for you,” he replied. “I need your help.”

“What do you need me for?” I asked.

“I can’t see the dirt.”

Of course he can’t. He only managed to turn the entire side yard into a swamp, rent a power washer and rig a dangerous system for reaching the top of the house that will result in either his electrocution or the flooding of my bedroom. Yet he hadn’t actually done anything. I firmly believe I am present solely to bear witness to the forthcoming tragedy and have an appropriate statement for when the EMTs or insurance adjuster arrives.

Over the next several minutes, I took several pictures in order to point out certain problem areas and then left him to it. An hour later, my colleague came inside and turned on the TV. He announced that the job was finished and he had returned the equipment. However, I remained suspicious.

“So all four sides of the house have been cleaned?” I asked.

He seemed genuinely surprised by the question. “Well no, I only thought one side was dirty.”

The moral of this story is that if you want something done right, do it yourself. It will be less dangerous. The job will be completed in full and your relationship will be a lot stronger for it.

 

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March Column for Michiana House & Home Magazine: Walk this way

sidewalkMy parents moved into their home on July 28, 1972. I know this because it was the day my mother was due to have me however, I did not feel like attending the festivities. Evidently I was not too excited about joining the planet or the prospect of having my own room because I didn’t show up the following day, the day after, or the day after that.

A week later, my mother was tired of hauling me around inside of her and so she called my aunt to come over and take her for a walk. Apparently a walk is the kind of thing that can encourage nature to take its course, but by the time my mother waddled around the block, she was no closer to having me than she was before.

However, it was enough time for an entire crew of contractors to set up camp on the lawn and reduce the front sidewalk to rubble. It was the kind of productivity that would impress any homeowner…if they had ordered the concrete work in the first place.

“What are you doing?” My mother asked the foreman.

“We’re installing your new sidewalk, lady,” he replied, rattling off an address that belonged to our next-door-neighbor.

To this day, I don’t know how they managed to misread the giant numbers posted near the front door, but they did and now there was a giant gaff. My mother was furious that her new home looked like a wreck. The neighbor was mad that her new sidewalk was being installed on the wrong property and how my mother didn’t go into labor right on the spot remains a mystery to me.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get it taken care of at no cost to you,” the foreman assured her, eyeballing her stomach.

And that’s exactly what they did. My parents got a new sidewalk at no cost. My neighbor got a huge discount on her project for the inconvenience and when I arrived a week later, they all had me to thank for it. Naturally, my mother recounted the story of my birth many times over the years, and there are several humorous anecdotes that are part of the saga: My father taking the time to shave and stop for gas on the way to the hospital and how I managed to have an accident all over myself on the way out of my mother’s body, but my favorite story is how my delayed arrival resulted in a free sidewalk proving good things come to those who wait.

 

 

 

 

 

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October 2016 column Michiana House & Home Magazine: Wide Awake in Dreamland

sleepwalking        Everyone has his or her own unique was of dealing with stress. Some people are emotional eaters. Some go for a long run or walk while others swear by the concept of “retail therapy,” but I am a bit unconventional…I sleepwalk.

I’m not really sure when my nighttime jaunts began, but I know I didn’t do it as a child. That was my brother’s department. I vividly remember the night in which he padded down the hall and wandered into the kitchen in order to throw his pillow in the trashcan. On another occasion, he removed the drawers from his dresser and stacked them on his desk in a configuration that can only be described as “modern art.” There was also the time that he got up at 1 a.m. thinking it was time to deliver his afternoon paper route. He nearly made it out the back door before my dad caught him and put him back to bed.

When I sleepwalk, it’s just as scary. I am incapable of navigating the layout of my own home. I see people who aren’t there. I try to unlock doors that don’t exist and in my most recent escapade, I stood over my son’s bed and stared down as him as though he were lying in a casket.

“If your planning to audition for the next Paranormal Activity movie, I think you’ll get the part,” he told me the following morning.

“What are you talking about?” I asked him.

Evidently, I got out of bed to visit the bathroom, but for reasons unknown, I chose his facilities rather than my own. This required me to jump over the dog gate at my bedroom door. According to Boy Wonder, when I finished my business, I didn’t go back to bed but rather, took a tour of the entire second floor of my house. I went into my office and sat in my chair for a while. I wandered across the hall to the spare bedroom and for a grand finale; I entered his bedroom and spun around before paying my respects at his supine body.

“Seriously, I don’t know how you did any of that in the dark without killing yourself in the process.” He said as he concluded his tale. “It was really impressive. Frightening, but impressive.”

While I would love to tell you that the story has been wildly exaggerated for dramatic purposes, I know he’s telling the truth. I have a vague memory of needing to use the bathroom and then being in his room…I’m just glad I didn’t confuse the latter with the former. That would not have ended well.

“Oh no, you made it into the bathroom just fine,” he assured me. “As for everything else, I don’t know what you were doing. You just kept saying you were looking for something.”

“Did I tell you what I was looking for?” I asked.

“Yeah…you said you needed to find a pillow.”

I should have checked the trashcan.

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August 2016 Column Michiana House & Home Magazine: The Approaching Storm

storm-door        When I bought the storm door, I should have known there were going to be problems. After the closet door debacle, the Christmas tree light fiasco and an assortment of other home improvement nightmares, you would think I would learn. What can I say? I’m a hopeless optimist.

Things got off to an auspicious start with an intense “discussion” involving the saleswoman and the door’s advertised price. When I didn’t get anywhere with her, I broached the subject with the cashier which led to a staff meeting between two more associates, the store manager and the previously mentioned woman in the door department. A half hour later, my door was ordered and I made my way out to the parking lot…accidentally leaving behind over $50 in change that took two days to get back.

Two weeks later, the door arrived and I went to pick it up. That’s when I discovered the box was wider than my trunk by two inches. I called everyone I could think of who might have a truck and who could come and help me but it was Friday night and no one was home so I finally decided to throw money at the problem and have it delivered. I would tell you about the complicated paperwork involved in what seemed to be a simple solution to the problem, but suffice to say, it would turn Gone With the Wind into a short subject and I don’t have that level of time.

Over the next twelve hours, my husband kept insisting that before we could install the new door, we would have to modify the existing framing in order to make it fit. Now, I love the man but he makes me nervous when he tries to modify anything beyond a noun. He has a long-standing history of making mountains out of molehills and failing to measure twice and cut once so it’s no surprise that it took two days for him to buy the wrong board three times, nail it to the door jam, fill in the cracks with wood putty, sand it and paint it to match the rest of the frame. The manufacturer of the door claimed the whole thing could be installed in 45 minutes. (Dear Andersen, we should all have your level of faith.)

However, the door is now in place and for the most part, there is little left to do. Oh I still have to take back the $50 handle I was told to buy because the door didn’t come with one. (They lied.) And there is a small one-and-a-half inch space between the jam and the storm door, which is big enough to let in every bug and rodent in America, but my husband doesn’t seem overly concerned. We simply have to buy one small thing to adjust it. He swears this is no big deal but the Vegas odds makers disagree. I sense the storm isn’t over and you may want to place your bets.

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July Column Michiana House & Home Magazine: My Firework

sandy        The earliest memory I have of my Aunt Sandy is set against the backdrop of a Fourth of July family cookout we had at her Irvington home. I was very young, between four and five at the most, but I distinctly remember the event. As my brother and I played Frisbee in the backyard, my aunt burst out of the back yard, clapped her hands together and asked, “Can we get a three-handed game going here?”

This amazed me for two reasons. 1.) It was the first time I remember an adult actually wanting to play with me, and 2.) I was unaware that my aunt even knew how to toss a Frisbee!

Eventually I would learn that my Aunt Sandy, who was as colorful as a firework knew how to do a lot more than that. She had an independent spirit and over the years, she taught me how to crochet, cross-stitch, make a meat loaf and a sure fire way for keeping rabbits out of my garden. She was a glass-half-full type who always found something to compliment whenever she stopped by for a visit, she told the best stories and although she was a very active adult, she always knew how to be in the moment.

Although she was not the kind of person for idle chitchat, whenever I called her, she always made a little bit of time for me. More often than not, I was calling to read her a draft of one of my columns for MHH. Whenever I wrote about my mom, dad or grandparents, especially if it were an over-embellished re-telling of a factual event, I worried that I might go too far and I wanted her to sign off on it, so to speak.

As soon as I began reading the copy, she’d start laughing. She had a great laugh. It was deep, throaty and genuine and I knew if she laughed, I must have hit a home run. She was my biggest fan and these columns would not be the same without her.

Not long ago, I received a call from my cousin telling me that my aunt had passed. Evidently she’d been ill for most of the year, but didn’t want anyone to worry about her. I saw her for the last time at my house in February. She walked into the living room, praised my housekeeping skills, laughed at my cookbook collection (even though I don’t cook) and asked if I was working on a new column.

“Always,” I told her.

“Good,” she said. “I love the way you write.”

She certainly did and as part of her final arrangements, she requested that I deliver her eulogy. It was a command performance that I couldn’t refuse and yet, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. The words were easy, of course it’s always easy to talk about someone you love…the hard part is realizing they are no longer there to bounce things off of or tell you when you got it right.

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April Column Michiana House & Home: Hello, Dave

Xbox      While cleaning my house one Friday morning, I decided to pop in a movie in order to have a little background noise while I worked. I found a good flick, turned on the TV and was stumped when I realized that an Xbox One had replaced my Blu-Ray player.

I remember Boy Wonder telling me that his new gaming system played movies, but I was not prepared to try and start, stop, and pause a film using a controller that had more buttons than the old stand up Asteroids arcade game. To make matters worse, none of the joysticks or buttons were labeled with anything other than an X,Y,A,and B. I’m sorry, but I have a problem solving anything that looks remotely like an algebra equation.

By some stroke of luck, the Xbox screen appeared immediately, greeted my son by name…or whatever he likes to be called on there, and in the bottom left hand corner I saw the Blu-Ray player icon. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to select it.

At some point in this odyssey, I managed to drop the space-aged gizmo running the operation and knocked the batteries askew. When I straightened that out, the whole thing lit up like a Christmas tree, scrolled through screens I didn’t authorize and asked me if I wanted to purchase something, watch a tutorial, or play a game of Global Thermonuclear War. I swear if the thing would have called me “Dave” I would have freaked out right then and there. (If you get either of those references, you are at least as old as I am!)

Terrified I might have to suit up and go into battle just to watch Apollo 13, I began hitting buttons and maneuvering joysticks until I was able to find the original screen. I also put in a call to my oldest in hopes he would tell me what I was doing wrong.

Having grown up in an era of home computers, gaming systems and VCRs, I do not take pride in being this electronically challenged. I also have a master’s degree in education so I should be able to operate something akin to a CD player on crack without having to phone a friend.

“Oh I don’t use my controller to run my movies either,” my oldest child assured me. “I use the voice command option to tell it what to do and then it does it.”

“I am not about to start having a conversation with a piece of machinery,” I told him. “I already talk to myself as it is. This will only confirm that I am crazy.”

“You do know that you can buy a regular remote control for it for about $25 right?” He asked.

It was the best idea I had heard all day. “You mean a regular remote with normal buttons like Play, Pause and Stop?” I queried.

“Yes,” he sighed.

“Wonderful, now you know what to get me for Mother’s Day.”

“I’ll put it on my list,” he promised. “In the meantime, the ‘A’ button is your friend.”

I highly doubt that.

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April MHH Column: Sizing up the truth

Me and Gleek    It happened right under my nose and yet, I failed to recognize the signs until the realization hit me one day as I stood in my laundry room holding an unfamiliar item of clothing and wondering to whom it belonged. Based on the style, I knew it wasn’t mine, which left only a few possibilities including an obvious one that I didn’t want to consider. After checking the size and gingerly fingering the fabric for a minute a strange sinking feeling came over me that I could not deny any longer. Gently, I folded the garment and laid it atop a nearby pile trying to ignore the sting of tears that threatened my eye sockets and burned the back of my nose.

The shirt belonged to my youngest son who somehow, without my knowledge or permission had grown up and was nearly the size of his father.

Now lest you think I am a sentimental idiot, I am well-aware that the boy has been taller than me since he was 12, sports the occasional stray hair on his chin and talks in a much deeper voice than he used to, but he is also the same person who still scatters Lego parts from the attic to the basement, sleeps with a beloved stuffed animal and leaves a sticky residue on every household surface that he touches. Technically I could have a toilet training toddler around here rather than an 18-year-old-soon-to-be-college student. So forgive me for feeling as if I have been lulled into a false sense of security.

So how did this happen without my knowing about it? It seemed that everything was fine when he was wearing those cute little cartoon briefs but changed when he graduated into those solid colored boxers that grew exponentially over the years and suddenly started landing in my husband’s dresser drawer.

“These aren’t mine,” he declared, handing me a stack of Hanes apparel, a Doctor Who shirt and several pairs of socks I’d long since gave up trying to match to their appropriate owner. “Can’t you tell the difference between my clothes and his?”

“Well of course I can,” I lied. Though in my defense, they both love Doctor Who, I hate folding underwear and seriously once a guy reaches a size 10 Nike, who can tell the difference anymore. Grab a pair of socks and move on!

Still, holding that gray shirt that somehow looked different to me when my son was wearing it, it was clear I had missed something and I instantly regretted every time I dreamed of being an empty nester, told him to grow up or act his age. How dare he follow my advice like that! Just for a moment, I wish I could travel through time like his favorite TV character in order to dress him in Garanimals rather than the Gap, fill out his preschool registration rather than the FAFSA or decorate the nursery of my baby once more instead of the dorm room of a man.

 

 

 

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