Sunday, October 26, 2008

Historic preservation and Bela Lugosi

The funeral was Saturday, but since I was not able to make the trip I went ahead with the day as scheduled.

I met a friend at Dancing Goats (great review here) to grab their oh-so-perfect cappuccino and their Duck's divine donuts before heading over to:

I don't have time right now to give a proper review because I am packing for a business trip, but overall, I would say it is worth your time to check it out next year if you didn't already! Once I get some of the presentations, I will write a review and post the presentations on the blog. Got plenty of helpful information and some possible resources for various projects in the future.

That evening we headed to Fellini's for a slice of pizza before heading over to the Plaza Theatre to check out the Silver Scream Spook Show.

This is one of the main cast members, Professor Morte.

I did a trial run of my costume and it was fun to see other people's costumes. The people that won the contest
had a wonderful couple costume, a guy with a hearse attached around his waist and his girl was walking inside a coffin with eye holes. (I didn't even enter the contest, it is too hard to explain what I am, lol)

This show is campy good fun - plus, you get to watch a crazy B horror movie afterwards. I write that last sentence with hesitation as I know there are a lot of Ed Wood fans that would say a B label downplays Ed Wood's brilliance ;)

Our movie was, Bride of the Monster, Bela Lugosi's last speaking role. The audience had fun with it laughing at the editing, props, innuendos and dialog.

See you guys in a week or so!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Goodbye, Aunt Betty

Our family got some very sad news this morning. My Aunt Betty, who had gone into triple bypass surgery, never woke up. We knew the risks. There was always this possibility, but like my dad -- I didn't think it would happen to her. Even though she had been ill, we still thought she would make it.

Sadly, I am not able to go to the funeral. So, as my parents and some of my brothers - along with other relatives - converge in Oklahoma City, my thoughts and spirit travels alongside them. I want very much to be there and be a part of the gathering that will join together with their voices, stories and hugs and celebrate my aunt and the imprint she made while she was with us.

Tonight, we (Mr. BitH, Mr. B and I) raised a glass of wine to add our voices from a distance: Here's to you, Aunt Betty!

Big love.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The joys of homeownership

Yes, this is all closely related to Murphy's Law and is quickly followed by the "falling domino" principle. So far, we have had the electrician out twice. Once to check up on some things related to the inspection report (making sure it is okay to have the circuit breaker box in the stairwell, replacing GFCI switches, covering outlets) another follow-up visit because - all of the sudden - the overhead living room, dining room, bedroom and office lights wouldn't turn on. That last one was just a wire failure and needed to be replaced.

Next up, an alarm company. We went with Ackerman after a lot of research and a friend's referral. Our house came with no fire alarms or carbon monoxide alarms, so we had a fire alarm hard wired into the system as well. We have a pretty extensive alarm system now - wireless as well (so no thief can cut our phone wire). We plan on hitting up the fire department for some free alarms for other rooms too. If you are looking at an alarm system in Atlanta, e-mail me and I will explain our decision to go with Ackerman. If you decide to go with Ackerman, we would love to refer you to our sales rep (we get something like 5% reward).

Today we had an HVAC company come out to work on our side wall vent system for our gas powered heating systems. The fan comes on after every shower, every long dish washing session, every laundry load . . . and sometimes just because it feels like it.
It is stinkin' loud. I mean rattles the floor loud. New construction code directs vents out the roof, but with older homes they are usually vented out a wall. I asked about this and the tech said that it looked like it used to be naturally vented up the chimney flue (there is a hole in the brick in the basement part of the fireplace) and someone switched it to the side vent at some point.

Which leads us to the chimney sweep coming out next week. He is going to inspect/clean the chimney to see if we can vent out the flue. We might need to line the flue with anodized aluminum ($$), but we are praying that we don't have to do this. When it passes inspection, we will have the HVAC guy back to switch the fumes back to vent out the stack (which unlike the fan is completely SILENT) and rehook up the gas to the ceramic gas heater in the living room fireplace.
He is also going to show us how to properly insulate our registers and do some general maintenance ourselves.

Again, why were these unhooked/changed? Dunno. May never know, although I hope it isn't because of a problem with the chimney.

For now, the HVAC tech, Jay, took out the loose, broken-off blades in the squirrel cage fan (this was partially responsible for the noise) and steadied the fan considerably cutting down on noise, but not completely.

As well all know, spending money always leads to spending more. We walked through our inspection list with Jay to see what else needs to be done immediately vs. before the summer hits next year. As we suspected, a lot of the ductwork in the partially finished basement is a little shoddy. Parts of that will have to be redone/unkinked before even starting the work in the basement. The previous owner built a hallway downstairs that closed off our supply register in our bedroom. No wonder we were hot and there was no air movement!

At some point (this is a pun that I have cleverly inserted. You will recognize this as you read on, although it will only produce an unforgiving groan and no laughter whatsoever), we will have to get some brick repointing done since during the recent torrential rains, we discovered the foundation leaks in the basement. We did get to see the house after a mild rain before we bought it (and it appeared to be totally dry) and the inspector said that the brick work was still good with very little crumble and the previous owner SWORE that it was a dry basement.

Ah. Well. He said, she said. You live and you learn.
I could also see this leading to having to reinstall a gutter system (that was taken down by the previous owner) to draw water away from the side of the house and brick foundation. I know why he did this. Craftsman houses don't have gutter systems and he wanted to get the house looking a little more authentic. Craftsman owners, if you've experienced this problem - what did you do?

Have I mentioned that our lawn mower stopped working?

George and the Golden Age Club

Yesterday, I met my much loved great-aunt Montine at her Golden Age Club luncheon. This was a special occasion because I finally got to meet her only surviving brother, George. I just love his response when I ask him to say hello to the camera.

George promised me that if we came down to see him, he would make us a pecan pie with handpicked pecans! I have a feeling we will see George sometime soon ;)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Strange beauty

This Daddy Long Leg's final resting place was next to an old nail on the front porch. I discovered him when I hung up a string of Halloween lights.

I think that there is poetry in the lines of its body.

This creature was making its way across the fence in the back of the yard. It looked like a 'very hungry caterpillar', but I guess I haven't become the fiercely protective gardener just yet. I left it alone and walked back into the house to Google (1) what in the world were the little white attachments on its back, and (2) try and figure out the name of the critter.

Turns out that had I killed this little guy, I would have put it out of its misery.

Apparently, the white football/rice looking accessories are indicative of a parasite called a Braconid wasp. The nutrient-rich little booger had been hijacked and was being eaten from
the inside out!

Adult female Braconids have long ovipositor and lay eggs inside the host. Then the larvae feed on the inside until it is ready to pupate. They work their way out, create cocoons and then emerge to look for more hosts. The life cycle ranges from 10-30 days.

Most sites I ran across raved about this parasite because it saved their tomatoes from Hornworms.

Guess I won't be seeing this (still unidentified) caterpillar again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Football, festivals and getting older

{{otherwise known as one of the longest posts ever}}

Sorry folks, fall has hit and my head is whirling. Things are getting brisk. Weekends being touristy at festivals, birthdays sneaking up and a trip to San Francisco.

We headed to Hapeville's Happy Days festival on September 20th and took the opportunity to explore the downtown as well. The festival itself was pretty sparse, but people seemed to be having fun - especially the kids on all of the big inflatables (never big enough for adults though *pout*).

The museum was hodgepodge stuff about Hapeville . It houses everything from an old Model T Ford to a torture chamber looking perm machine to old memorabilia from Delta and Eastern. Don't even think most of the population could fit in the old airplane chair they had on display. We did notice a weird tendency to populate the town with mannequins . . .

They seemed to be e v e r y w h e r e.

At least they had the good sense to install pretty flowers in various places to distract you from the "posers" with the really bad hair. I mean they are on display! Dignity, people, dignity - even for a mannequin.

The next weekend (September 27) we went to the Historic College Park Festival. Again, small and not really that varied as far as the art aspect went. The music was decent and the park was really nice (the grass was otherworldly lush and all of the kids ran around barefoot in it). The best thing that came out of going was meeting Tal Stanfield and Don Shomaker of The Craftsman Remodeling, LLC. Their work looked amazing. They even do custom cabinets and built-ins! Definitely have them earmarked for the future!

The little girl, above, cracked me up with her serious little face. The little boy, above, danced like a crazy man in front of the live bands. I mean running, jumping, doing little dance moves for about an hour. Non-stop. He wore me out while I was sitting there eating my Italian sausage sandwich. Whew.

That night my parents showed up on their way back down from north Georgia to check out our home. After our very quick tour of the house, we left them to their own devices and headed out to meet friends for a pre-birthday (happy birthday to meeeee!) celebration at the Wren's Nest. I have lived in Atlanta for a while, but had never gone (this was a phrase much uttered over the evening by just about everyone I talked to or was eavesdropping on *ahem* The only exception seemed to be former Boy Scouts. Apparently they all visited the Nest at one point or another).

These were the events that finally led to us actually stepping foot into the place: we happened to go to the nearest Benjamin Moore design store location and while standing in the parking lot, noticed the Wren's Nest across the street (SO close). Then we got an invite a few days later from Kingsized since we are on the mailing list. My interest was piqued even then but as soon as my eyes saw the caterers, Sol Catering of Taqueria del Sol? Too delicious to be ignored. The stars were aligned! Totally good time, divine food and the house is amazing! Best of luck to them as they remodel and spin yarns!

A few days later I headed to San Francisco for a dear friend's birthday extravaganza! There was much eating, drinking and making merry. Even some of the most sophisticated tailgating I have ever been to (beef brisket, pork, lamb, polish sausages, corned beef. so. much. meat. Thank goodness J brought grapes). The 49ers lost, but that didn't stop the gorging. There were hot dogs for a light evening snack. Oh, and although Hapeville might have been keeping ACME Mannequin in business, San Francisco had their ubiquitous bowls of balls. Tres chic!