For the most part, this is just boring, ho-hum stuff. So go ahead and skip reading it, or maybe just look at the photos.
Tree removal: One of the two trees (must have two, as these are "required" by subdivision edict) in my front yard was split by ol' Ike in September of '08. The remaining fork of said tree looked a bit dangerous, but did seem to be somewhat thriving. I had contacted a firm to give me an estimate on removing this tree a few weeks ago, but nothing was reported back to me, either by phone or on paper. So I assumed that they had been a no-show. On Wednesday of this week, I was talking with my neighbor's brother, T, about the no-show situation. T said he knew of someone who might be able to do this, and asked what I was willing to pay. I said I would want to be under $1,000 for this task. And I promptly forgot about it. Until I came home from work on Thursday and found a handful of Hispanic men excavating around the roots of said tree! Truly, I did not know who they were employed by - the "no-show" group or who... I said a few words to them (and most did not have a good handle on English), and one of them handed me a piece of cardboard with a first name and a phone number on it. The first name was the same as the neighbor's brother. Well, I was both relieved and puzzled when it was the brother who picked up the phone. He said these guys would do the whole thing for $700, but they wanted cash. The reason that he went ahead and had them start was that this was the only day that they could get this done. And then they would pick up the limbs, trunk pieces, root stuff, etc. on Friday - when they were clearing up from other sites. I would pay him, and he would hold the money until they had completed everything, including the Friday removal of debris.
I had to leave shortly to meet my church dinner group for our monthly chow fest at the local Outback Steakhouse. The gentlemen were digging (and now chopping) at my oak when I left. T had told me that the chainsaw broke, and they were tired of waiting for their boss to fix it and bring it back - so manual chopping down it was. By the time I returned, it was dark, the tree was down and the hole had been refilled. The debris was piled in the front yard. I gave T the $700.
The next day was my every-other-Friday off. Leroy (painter) was scheduled to come back that morning, and I had to run to Lowe's to buy another paint color. The warmish beige color that I had him use in the master bath, upstairs bath, and upstairs bedroom, now looked quite PINK in the kitchen. There was ceramic tile in the master bath (white) and also in the kitchen (sort of taupe-ish). In the other rooms, the beige still looked beige. But the kitchen tile and the large windows in that room definitely accented the pink that was in the "background" of this warm beige. Off to Lowe's for a taupe-ish color!
While I was at Lowe's I received a phone call from a friend in Florida, and talked with him for a while. Then I got the paint and returned home. While I was in the kitchen (where Leroy was working), I heard a noise in the front yard that caused me to look out the window. Yessss! The crew from Thursday had removed the tree debris and were fixin' to depart. I checked with them, and yes, T had paid them. Another item off my to-do list (before I can put the house on the market).
China hutch: I had listed this piece of furniture on the Craigslist.com for Houston. Had 2 questions by e-mail, and then a real live person phoned on Tuesday. Actually, she left a message on my home phone. I then left her a message, and then she called again. She was quite interested and asked several questions, and wondered if Sunday would be a good day to look at it. I agreed to that day. Wednesday morning I got a call back from her, while I was at work. Could they (she and her husband) see it tonight? I explained that I wouldn't get home until 6:30, and she asked if it would be possible to make that earlier? Well, if they had let me know about this on Tuesday, yes, but I took the van pool that morning and was stuck with that. Okay. So, after the van dropped me off, I drove home. Got a phone call while I was sitting at a light. They were at my house - but the van had started a bit late, and then there was heavy traffic at Reliant Park, as the HLSR (Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo) was going on. I explained that. About 10 minutes later, I turned into my driveway and there they were in an Expedition and had a trailer attached.
I let them into my house and the husband was concerned that no one could help him with this heavy piece of furniture (I had explained to her that there was NO one to "tap" for assistance). However - he IS a structural engineer and you could see the wheels turning for his "grand plan" of moving this. And by God, he did it! It is a two-part hutch, and he got the top off (with no damage) and out to the dolly, wheeled it to the trailer, etc, then repeated the process with the bottom section. I asked for $300 cash, they paid and off they drove! And another piece of furniture gone, and another item off the to-do list!
The best news is that it really makes the dining room look so much bigger, and it really lets that new paint job (my excellent color picks, if I do say so myself) show so nicely - two shades of taupe, with the lighter above the chair rail, and the slightly darker below that. I have a painting to hang in there now - will solicit some advice from friends/neighbors as to the best wall to put it on.
Replacement tree: I came across Connie and Don (neighbors a couple of houses down from me) when I was coming back from my walk on Sunday. She took the Texas Master Gardener course a while back and when she saw my split tree, had volunteered to help me find a suitable replacement. That was just after Ike. Well, we have tentatively set up Friday, April 3rd to run the tree-replacement search. She has a greenhouse in our area that she likes PLUS! she has a pickup truck to haul the tree (and I heard her mention that she wants to get whatever, at this same greenhouse. Maybe I can talk her into hauling some mulch for me? My shrub areas desperately need some, and my lawn guy ONLY mows and edges. He had said he'd do the weed 'n' feed for me - but so far: no dice. I will be happy to be done with him and with all the crap that lawn care in Houston requires.
Food glorious food! I actually went out to eat, three nights in a row, last week. Thursday with my church group, at Outback Steakhouse; Friday to Escalante's (Houston-based Mexican restaurant with higher prices) with two neighbor women and some of their friends; and Saturday to Johnny Carino's with my friend A, one of the women I met at the Houston Widows/Widowers group (a group that we have dropped from our schedules, as they never plan anything fun and only the same ol' members seem to attend).
Clothing sizes: I had to shop for clothes this weekend. None of my stuff fits, as I am just about wearing the sizes I wore when I graduated high school. Not braggin', folks, I am just saying. My friend in Florida would have a cow if he knew - he thinks I need to gain some weight - and so I will just not tell him. Anyhoo, I have decided to go through my casual clothes and set aside the bigger sizes. I will probably get back to wearing them sometime in the future. I'll pack 'em away for the next few months. I am not putting any money into the smaller clothes for work (I mostly wear suits). Since the jackets are long enough to cover my self-alterations, I use at least one LARGE safety pin to keep my skirts at the correct position on my waist/hips. The last time that I had this weight-loss "problem" was following one or both of my heart surgeries. I think my body, back then, was using all the calories for healing. I could eat like a little pig and not gain a pound. 'Course, that was only temporary.
Speaking of clothing: I wore a t-shirt to the Outback gathering on Thursday. There are 3 couples and 2 singles (B and myself) in this group. (B's husband, the jerk, left her at Thanksgiving, a few years ago - and eventually they divorced - what a prick. And I am now solo, too.) I was sitting at the table with my right elbow sorta propped up on the table itself. Two of the couples, the L's and the D's, finally couldn't stand it. They had to ask me, "What does your shirt say?" (Some folks think it is an Aggies t-shirt, misspelled. You probably need to have spent some time in TX to know what an Aggie is?) So I explained that it came from my nephews wife, who is an assistant professor at the college named Augsburg (in the Mpls-St.Paul area), with the name of "Auggies" on the shirt. "Oh," one of them remarked, "We thought it said Juggies!" Now, folks, I could use a little male attention - but NOT by using a shirt with that kind of "advertising" on it! For illustration, I just had to wear this another night and have a friend take this photo. And that margarita - delicious and SO worth the $8 for the silver Herradura top-shelf version. Mmmmmm.....