Friday, May 30, 2008


Anyone know where I can get a gently used, low mileage car for $4800 that will last me for at least 5 years?

Yeah...I didn't think so.

Let's see, maybe we should make that $4300 since we've spent approximately $500 getting Porkchop's car in full operating order (sans AC, of course).

I really hate the way things are currently going.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Phone Calls I Don't Like

Dude, I know that Porkchop doesn't like my car because she complains about how slow it is and stuff whenever she's in it, but can you believe she went and did this to it this morning?

I mean, come on, it's not like I MADE her drive it to her parents for the holiday!

But, seriously, Porkchop is fortunately in fine shape.

On this rainy morning, Porkchop was outside of Rolla on I-44 after her visit with her parents. She was a ways behind a semi truck when suddenly the truck threw on its flashers and quickly swerved into the left lane. When the truck moved over she realized that there was a giant piece of metal on the highway. Although she was at least 4 car lengths behind the semi and going the speed limit, this left her little time to react. As she swerved on the wet highway she fishtailed and then began to spin and spin and run into the steel posts and cables in the median. In fact, she rode on top of the cables facing backwards! Crazy! Luckily, the cables did their job so that Porkchop didn't flip or cross over to the other side.

This is what the posts looked like when Porkchop was finished with them:

So...the car is pretty beat up on one side, the gas tank is ruptured, the posts punctured different parts of the car's undercarriage, and there are holes/gaps where the trunk and the engine area of the car join the body. Will State Farm rule this as totaled or fixable? Bets, anyone?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Can You Tell I'm Bored?

I've been at home for 3 days largely by myself.

I'm bored and am actually looking forward to going to work tomorrow.

In my boredom, I made pan fried trout and some asparagus, mushrooms, and potatoes sauteed in butter. It was pretty good.

But the apartment smells like fried fish now.

I'm so bored, I'm starting to second guess my liking of The House:
  • The backyard isn't level and would really need to be terraced in order to do things like gardening. How much would this cost? Could we do it ourselves? Can chickens live on terraces?
  • Many of the cabinets in the kitchen aren't very deep. So, lots of cabinets, but shallow. Would this annoy me to no end?
  • Why did they have to use sliding doors for the bedroom closets?
  • Are the wood floors on the second level in such poor condition that they put down carpet? Or could we redo the floors later?
  • The bathrooms are small. Would we start to hate this a lot?

I Hope this is not A Sign

Yesterday, I spent a good part of the afternoon assembling documents for my in-take session at Acorn that was scheduled for today, Memorial Day. I already had my and Porkchop's tax and W2 files prepared, along with some paystubs. But there were newer paystubs and newer checking and savings statements to PDF, as well as a budget form and application to complete.

When Porkchop returned from Six Flags, we went directly to The House so that she could see it. We agreed that we should go for it, and our realtor laid out the steps to take after meeting with Acorn today (see how it all relies on this Acorn meeting?).

This morning, Porkchop dropped me off at my office so that I could scan her driver's license and social security card, and so that I could print out two copies of all the paperwork that I needed. Since I had this Acorn appointment lined up, I decided to stay in St. Louis while Porkchop went to see her parents.

It took a while to print and assemble everything, so I only had enough time to stop by Kayak's for a bagel to go for lunch. And then it was on to the Central West End busport so that I could catch a bus to the Acorn office.

See the complicated arrangements here and how I went into my office on a HOLIDAY? (of course, it was personal work, but I was still there! I saw that I have many new emails to attend to tomorrow!)

So, imagine my chagrin when I reached the Acorn office and NO ONE WAS THERE. Hmmmpphhhh....

Another guy on the bus was going to Acorn, too, because he does some political organizing work for them. He thought the office was open as well, but when he called his supervisor, his supervisor confirmed that the office is closed today.

Oh, but see, we were confused because the office door was unlocked! After the guy hung up with his supervisor, we heard someone coughing upstairs. I asked the guy if he thought it was D----- (with whom I had an appointment). He doubted it but yelled up the stairs. When no one answered, the guy said, Nah, I think that's just someone sleeping up there because the door was unlocked...I wouldn't go up there if I were you.

I took his advice and left with him.

And while waiting for the bus, I left a scathing voice-mail for D------. Because there is no better retribution than a scathing voice-mail.

The Plus Side
I rode two different bus lines today. I like being knowledgeable about the buses. Let me tell you, bus number 93 seems to go everywhere.

On the Grand bus, I saw a young guy with "Barack" tattooed down his right forearm in at least 1-inch high capital letters and "Obama" tattooed down his left. That's bold.

I see a lot of tattoos on the bus, but this is the first time I've seen a political one. People on the Grand bus are more likely to have their boy- or girlfriend's name, or their own name, tattooed on their neck than to have political-themed ink.

Anyway, seeing the Barack Obama tattoo kind of made all of this mess worthwhile.

I just hope we can still get The House.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Li La Li

Yikes! A weird winged bug just flew past me and landed on the wall! I can't wait to get out of this apartment and the window screens that don't do a proper job. Seriously, SO many bugs come in through the screens.

Hopefully we can be out of here by July. I didn't think it would happen, but I saw another terrific place today - 3 bedroom, 2 bath, new pretty kitchen, backyard, garage, located near Cherokee, and near our price range. On Monday, I have an in-take appointment at Acorn Housing, so hopefully we can get in on one of their mortgage programs. No down payment and no mortgage insurance? Sign me up. I'll post more info on Monday because 1) it's freaking hard to find details online, and 2) it's been difficult to get in touch with the Acorn people in St. Louis. Maybe because it appears only two people work at this office.

Maybe you have figured out that Porkchop is back in St. Louis. Here are snippets from her return trip...

I flew down to Albuquerque, and my flight was only 20 minutes late. For a while, I was worried that there would be no flight because a fire alarm went off in the terminal, and we were evacuated. Fortunately, the cause was some jackass pulling an alarm in a shop. If there is ever a real emergency, I hope to god I'm not at the airport. It was the most half-assed, disorganized, f'ed up evacuation I've ever seen (not that I've seen a lot).

But, so, Albuquerque! Thursday night was a tear-filled goodbye graduation ceremony/potluck. I didn't even attend Tamarind and only met Porkchop's colleagues a few times, but I wanted to cry too. All the kids were such good people! And good people are hard to find (kind of like good houses are hard to find).

Also, can I say that any graduation ceremony that includes a custom-made unicorn pinata totally rocks? Here's Patrick spinning Porkchop around for her turn:

The pinata was awesome and heavy-duty and required several rounds of beatings before its contents of candy and mini alcoholic beverage bottles spilled forth.

Oh my, the party also included some of the best food I've had in a while. People in Albuquerque know how to make mean tamales....yum.

Friday and the Weekend
Friday morning came waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy too early! Porkchop and I returned our rental car at 7:00 am and picked up a different rental car for the one-way drive. Then we packed it totally full! Fortunately, Porkchop has had lots of experience driving without being able to see out the back window. I, on the other hand, do not like it so much.

Patrick and his girlfriend Chelsey then met up with us with their equally full car for The Long Drive.

It was such a long drive. But, it went by rather quickly. I guess Porkchop and I had lots to talk about. And we had crossword puzzles to do and XM radio to listen to. By the time we reached Missouri at 10:00 pm, however, we had to resort to singing Simon & Garfunkel tunes a cappella. We pulled up to our apartment around 2:30 am, unloaded the rental car, and then returned it to the airport. So...we finally got to sleep around 4:30 am Saturday morning. Blech.

We were all tired heads on Saturday because we had to get up for the 12:15 Cardinals game! It was an exciting game that ended with a home run in the 10th inning (I totally called the home run, by the way). Not only did the Cards win, Porkchop scored an Albert Pujols dinner plate:

The plates were given to kids 16 and under upon entering the stadium. Porkchop managed to get one by wearing her huge baseball cap and looking wide-eyed and innocent. Also, Patrick made a discreet hand signal to the plate-passer-outer, indicating that Porkchop should get one. Porkchop has yet to use the plate, but I'm sure she will later.

After the game, we checked out the Arch:

And then it was on to dinner at Schlafly's Bottleworks, then home for a nap, and then out to Ted Drewes for custard.

The next morning included brunch at La Dolce Via and a sad goodbye to Patrick and Chelsey. Murrr!

The Rest of the Week
I'm not really sure what happened. I spent way too much time talking to mortgage people and thinking about houses. I know I worked some, and Porkchop and I did some things.

Here is one thing I remember:

This week's share! Porkchop picked it up, and it was a good one. We have trout, bread, mache (which I've never had before, and I love it!), parsley (ummm...don't know what to do with it), fake pork, Dogtown pizza, Ropp green onion cheddar cheese, sticky toffee pudding from Schlafly (YUM - the caramel sauce by itself is worth it), and Pilgrim's Acres eggs.

Pilgrim's Acres is another example of the hybrid of religious conservatism and sustainable food practices. I love (seriously) that their bookstore section includes The Omnivore's Dilemma, along with the Bible.

Anyway, their eggs are super tasty. But, after this week's pick-up, we had nearly 20 eggs. So, I'm making egg-y things.

Like quiche! I took the bus down to the Tower Grove farmer's market this morning and picked up some asparagus, and then my realtor took me by Local Harvest for mushrooms (I was car-less today) I was able to throw together this kick-ass quiche:

It is super-yum. I used whole wheat and white flour for the crust. The filling consists of the green onion cheddar cheese; asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic sauteed in butter; fresh tarragon (I think it was tarragon - it was included in the herb bouquet from my previous share); eggs; milk; and salt, pepper, and nutmeg. I was worried about the quiche overflowing while baking, but I could have even used another egg because of their smaller size.

The asparagus is awesome by itself. I only used half the bundle, so we'll do something else with the rest.

Also at the farmer's market, my creepy stalker ways at the market last season totally paid off. This morning, the 4 Seasons guy gave me an extra mocha macaroon. Yes!

I cannot wait for the rest of the summer and all the vegetables that we will have. Our garden is currently producing yummy lettuce and radishes. But we're really waiting on carrots and beets. And tomatoes (hopefully).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another Big Sigh

Sunday evening, Porkchop and I looked at the Perfect House:
  • Great location on Hartford. Three and a half blocks east of Grand, so close to everything we need.
  • Two story solid brick.
  • Perfect size and layout.
  • Wood floors.
  • Big closets.
  • Best backyard ever with raised beds and room for chickens.
  • Two car garage.
  • And...could be had within our price range.

On Monday, I called around to get new pre-approval letters, and I set up a time to meet with our realtor today to draw up an offer.

Last night, our realtor called to let us know that the seller had received an offer on Monday.

This morning, our realtor called to let us know that the house is now under contract.

I am unbelievably sad.

All the other houses in our price range are stupid and shit and in bad locations.

Right now, I hate everything.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Sometimes you might be on the verge of tears and call someone so that you can yell and swear about all sorts of minor injustices which might be magnified because your body is about to slough off your uterine lining.

And, instead of telling you to suck it up, that person might send you your favorite flowers.

[Thanks, Porkchop!]

And then later you might have a bacon-lettuce-tomato-avocado sandwich and potato chips and a pickle and a cherry Italian soda, followed by an hour and a half of nothing but fiddling, and you realize that the world is okay (until you read about the 3 shootings in 1 day that killed 5 people in North St. Louis - seriously, that is crazy shit).

Also, sometimes Keetah might like to pick out her own toys.

I love that she has finally discovered the cat toy basket.

ONE MORE DAY! (and part of another one, but who's counting?)

I Would Kill for a Drink Right Now

That is all.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Wintry Sunday Boredom

This Sunday finds me rather bored. I wanted to do garden-y things, but with this cold wind, I don't even want to pot basil and peppers for the back porch. Neither do I want to knit, practice the fiddle, or read.

Part of this discontentment is, I believe, due to the nearness, but not-yetness of Thursday. On Thursday, I go to Albuquerque, and then on Friday Porkchop and I caravan to St. Louis with Patrick and his girlfriend Chelsey. Since Pat didn't make the second year, he's moving back to Milwaukee, and then he and Chelsey will volunteer for a year in Chile.

Thursday is so close, but I still have 3 days of work and 3 days of anticipation.

So, even though I haven't been knitting (um, at all for the past couple of weeks), I have been cooking! This morning, I made French toast, which is something I never really eat. But it made sense since I still had bread left over from my share, eggs, and bit of cow milk. Behold:

The stuff on top is that wonderful apple butter. Also, this is actually a French toast sandwich! I cooked it with peanut butter (also from my share) and more apple butter in the middle. YUM! I really should make French toast more often since it's super easy.

Before making the French toast, I put together a chili for the crockpot. I soaked black beans last night and sauted ground beef this morning with onion, garlic, and spices. I can't wait to eat it...the crockpot is just taunting me. I have 49 minutes before I test the beans for doneness. Also, for the chili, I chopped up part of the smoked chipotle peppers that I received in my share. The peppers smell wonderful - I was tempted to take a bite out of one, but I knew that would be foolish.

Also on the food front...remember my tomato plant as pictured last week? If not, here it is:

And here it is this past Friday (a mere week after the previous photo):

It has grown A LOT.

Here it is today - it's at least a couple of inches taller than on Friday:

It has been trying to put out flowers, but I'm pinching them off because the plant needs to grow a bit more before producing tomatoes.

Sometimes I just stand on the backporch and look at my plants.

Keetah would rather I pet her if I'm going to just stand around. Here she is today, not staying still long enough for me to focus on her face:

Sometimes, she is so very cute.

This afternoon, I had to leave the house for cat food and litter. Whenever I'm at Petsmart, I always check out the cats - we won't get another one as long as Keetah is around, but I still like to look. Today was kind of heartbreaking because there was a mini Keetah!! And the sign said something to the effect of: "I was at the city humane society for a long time, but no one ever picked me." Murrr!

If you want a little Keetah, go to the Petsmart at Chippewa and Kingshighway and look for Siren (and maybe change her name).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Big Sigh

Finding a house is hard, especially when you know you can't have a huge monthly payment because of all of your other bills.

This morning was...interesting:
  • I saw one SUPER pretty place. The downside: it's a townhouse, and I could faintly hear the other people walking up and down their stairs. Also, because of the big front yard, the backyard is a little shared brick courtyard. Where would the chickens live?! And, finally, I wouldn't really call the neighborhood transitional just yet. Still boarded up buildings and falling down where to really walk.
  • The mixed use building that I looked at was gross, gross, gross. Ugh.
  • The other work/live place that was recently rehabbed is just WEIRD with multiple add-ons and sloping floors and odd bathroom configurations...among other things.
  • One house would have been super-great, but it was a half-assed rehab job. Things would definitely be going wrong soon. Also, the backyard was all paved.
  • The place I was most excited about looked okay in person...I just had issues with the condition of the wood floors, and there were little details that hadn't been finished. Like the closets didn't have rails or shelves. Some trim work needed to be finished more neatly, and some caulking was coming off around the bathtub. Also, the showing was generally weird because my realtor and I discovered that someone had stolen all of the kitchen appliances (dishwasher, stove, microwave, and refrigerator) (and scratched up the wood floor in the process of carting them out)! It was a bit awkward when the seller's agent came over because he was trying to tell me about other properties, and we were just like, dude, someone stole all of the appliances here - shouldn't you call the police or something. We determined it had to be an inside job because there were no signs of forced entry. The back door had been taken off its hinges, but that had been done from the inside. Someone totally knew the lockbox code.
So, I continue looking.

I mean, I like the place with the stolen appliances and it's right in my price range, so maybe I could just write some stuff in the contract for them to fix.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

My Second Share

This is my second share, which is quite abundant. To me, anyway. I'm still finishing up stuff from my first share!

We have bread, lettuce, apple butter, an herb bouquet, more black beans, wheat tortillas, eggs, 1 lb of grass fed beef, popcorn (it was coffee, but I traded it), white cheddar, meat sauce from Maria & Sons, and two dried chipotle peppers.

I hope my share partner Deborah of Ephemeral Chaos has similar luck next week!

Here's my plan for the beef...use half of it to make a beef and black bean chili-type thing (as Rebekah suggested) and then freeze the other half for burgers (as Deborah suggested). Porkchop might like a burger when she returns next week! Alternatively, we can have tacos or burritos so that she does not become homesick for Albuquerque cuisine.

After picking up this huge share, I ended up having a salad and leftover pizza tonight! I didn't want the pizza to go to waste, and I jazzed it up with stuff from my share. For the piece of cheese pizza, I added black beans from my first pick-up. For the piece of tomato-mushroom pizza, I added basil from the herb bouquet.

For lunch tomorrow, I will have 1) a salad using the lettuce and an apple that I already have and 2) a sandwich using the bread, cheese, and apple butter.

The apple butter won't last long. It's from Centennial Farms in Augusta and is a total revelation.

Taking Suggestions

What do I do with a pound of ground beef?

This will be in my share this evening, and I have no clue what to do with it. I need something where the beef isn't super noticeable (no burgers, no tacos, and no meatloaf).


Monday, May 05, 2008

Shaking and Yelling

I thought I felt a little earthquake this morning, and I did! A little microquake of 2.7 about 4 miles away.

Recently, I've had to start yelling at some kids around here.

Yesterday, two kids were in the gangway shooting what I think were BBs at either my or my neighbor's window unit. I spied them from my back porch and commenced yelling at them: Don't run through here shooting that in my yard! To which the kids looked up, scared, and said okay. When they started to run off, I yelled: And close that gate! Because I hate open gates as much as I hate open drawers and cabinet doors. The kids closed the gate and took off.

This evening, there were older kids playing with the same gun, which didn't seem to having anything in it at the moment. As I walked out to my car, I KNEW that they were going to shoot at my car when I drove off. To me, it doesn't matter if a gun has anything in it or not, or if it's a BB gun or an airgun or a cap gun, it's the intention behind the action that I can't stomach. So, yes, the kid shot as I drove away, I threw the car in reverse, rolled down the window, and yelled: DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!

The kids and I went back in forth a couple of times:
Kids: But there's nothing in it!
Me: I don't care! Don't shoot it at me!

I was hoping that the kids were still outside when I got home so that we could have a conversation about this, but they weren't there.

I mean, I don't like kids pointing anything at me and shooting. But, the larger issue is their safety. There are people on our street and larger neighborhood with REAL guns, and they aren't afraid to use them. I'm worried that one of these kids is going to mess with the wrong person.

I really don't want to see that happen.


I am so ashamed, embarrassed, and angry that my university is giving an honorary degree to Phyllis Schlafly.

I don't toss around the word hate lightly, but I hate Phyllis Schlafly.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Let's Talk about Other Things

My work week was incredibly draining and is the reason I haven't posted in a while. So...moving on to other topics...

Friday of last week, my parents met me at work and I took off a few hours early. Their visit was much better than I anticipated. Not that I thought my parents would be bad company or something, I was just really worried about them staying with me and perhaps my dad making comments about my neighborhood. Just because there are signs posted at nearly every intersection that read, "This area under mobile camera surveillance," it isn't really that bad. (As long as you stay in at night and aren't a post office letter carrier, since people around here tend to shoot their letter carriers. Ha - see, things aren't so bad!)

But, my parents didn't say much about my neighborhood. Probably because we were so busy buying gardening supplies and plants and looking at plants and eating.

We ate so much Friday night at Sidney Street Cafe, none of us were very hungry on Saturday. We hit the Webster Groves herb sale in the morning, and were surprised at how many people were there! We had to wait in this looooong line to get in:

It was like a night club where you have to wait for people to leave in order to go in. Only it was an herb sale.

After the herb sale and after stopping at Serendipity for a few scoops of ice cream, we went to the Botanical Gardens. Although the Niki de Saint Phalle show didn't officially open until the next day, we saw plenty of sculptures. Like the Niki-gator:

We also saw someone who might possibly be the Chinese ambassador to the US, but that's another story for another post.

We were at the gardens for a long time and certainly got our money's worth. That's a bit of humor because the gardens are free to City and County residents before noon on we didn't have to pay anything. But I would have paid because the gardens are great.

Anyway, I made dinner for my parents Saturday night using the black beans and tortillas from my CSA share. Sunday morning was breakfast at Missisippi Mud House (because La Dolce Via doesn't open until 10 on Sunday), and then my parents were off.

Here are some other plant-related updates...

My tomato plant on the porch is doing terrifically well! Here it is with a companion sweet basil plant that I picked up at the WG sale (its other basil buddies are in the garden):

I have a lot of lettuce to thin out. I think I might have a very baby lettuce salad this weekend:

Here's a thyme plant and a pistou basil plant, also from the WG sale:

And an oregano plant from the sale:

I can't wait until the basil plants are big and there are tomatoes to harvest!

My only wish is that it wasn't allergy time. I'm actually faring well this season thanks to a steady regimen of sinucleanse, allegra, and flonase. However, my throat is getting a bit sore now, and my nose is full of snot and some other yucky stuff. But, you know, at least I can still breathe without too much trouble. It doesn't help that there's a thick coat of pollen on everything in the living room - I intend to clean up that crap tomorrow.

My plant goals this weekend are to find and plant two red bell pepper plants, a banana pepper plant, and possibly an eggplant. In the garden, we currently have the following sprouting: radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, chard, peas, tomatoes, basil, sage, garlic, and chives. In mid-May, we'll plant watermelons, cantaloupes, and cucumbers. Awesome!

Oh, also, Porkchop and I have decided that it would be best for us to purchase a regular house at the moment. So, I have identified a few around Cherokee street to look at next weekend. Like most people, we have certain requirements that potential houses need to meet. We've nixed a few already because the yards would not be able to accommodate chickens.

Yes, we are basing our housing purchase options on chickens that we don't have.

But we will get them, oh yes, we will. We are so excited about having chickens!

Porkchop wants to buy one of these Eglus, but I'd rather we build a chicken tractor ourselves instead of paying $500 for wire and plastic.

Anyway, that's what we're talking about now...chickens.