Monday, August 29, 2011

Beating the heat

On Saturday, the thermometer hit 109 degrees.  That?  That's hot.  Too hot to take the dogs to the park, so instead I took them to my friend's house for a dip in the pool.


Cheyenne was thrilled.


Dixie, on the other hand, not so much.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Crescent city break

Last Saturday, I left the whirring fans and ever so slowly drying house, and joined some friends on an eastbound plane and about an hour later, landed in New Orleans. It was hot there, and humid there, and just like here there. But that was fine with me because there was also a hotel room with my name on it there and in that hotel room several things were missing:  1) big loud fans, 2) big loud de-humidifiers, and 3) a puppy who likes to wake me up at the break of dawn each day, which made if very much unlike here.


It was very Zen-like.


Except this temptation was across the street from me.  I admit to spending some time there.  And my time there?  It was money well spent.  So to speak.


But spending two days in a casino is not my thing, especially in New Orleans, so we did step out into the sweltering heat on Sunday for a bit of a wandering here and there. 



Oue meandering led us here, because what's a trip to New Orleans without stopping off for cold Oysters on the half shell and a spicy Bloody Mary at this place? 


When I got back home Monday evening, my house was dry and the moisture remediation company came over and took all those noisy fans and dehumidifiers away.  I was relaxed, had a couple extra dollars in my wallet, some fun memories, and a quiet house. Two days well spent, that's what I think.  Thank you, Crescent city!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A very moist update

Each day, between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m, a technician from the moisture remediation company comes out to my house with that special moisture meter and checks a multitude of spots along the baseboards, floors and ceiling (or, lack of ceiling if truth be told) downstairs and then all the spots around common walls and floors of the two upstairs bathrooms. 

I sit on the couch and go through the mail while he does this.

He comes down the stairs and I ask him, "Is it dry yet?"  Because oh my goodness, have you ever had de-humidifiers in your house?  Those things are amazingly good at owning up to their name.  This house is as dry as the arid soil in west Texas.  Seriously, I'm slathering lotion on my body every 20 minutes.  And the technician tells me, "No, the floors are still wet, and the baseboards upstairs."

 I roll my eyes.

Another night and day of three de-humidifiers and ten fans.  My house is a noisy, windy whirl of breezes right now.  And dry, so very dry.  Except, apparently, for the walls and baseboards.

Someone pass the lotion, please.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When your house screams

When I left my house on Saturday afternoon, I left with the dogs and a bag packed for the night because I was staying at my friend's house after the Stevie Nicks concert. We went to the concert in a limousine and I knew we'd be drinking and I wanted to plan ahead for playing it safe.

On Sunday, my friend cooked a great breakfast and then the television came on and the Sunday paper came out and before I knew it, it was late afternoon on a really lazy Sunday and time for me to get on back to my house, unpack, get the dogs settled, and wind down the weekend with 60 Minutes and laundry.

It didn't quite go like that, however.

In fact, it didn't go like that at all.

When I walked in the door and turned into the dining room, I discovered water.  Water all over the floor, drip drip dripping from the ceiling which was dark and wet with wet watery wetness. The wall post was soaked as well, with water running down to the floor.

Cheyenne started pacing. Dixie started barking.  I felt the blood drain from my face.

I may have spewed a string of curse words. Loudly.

I ran up the stairs to the master bath which is directly over the dining room, and there I discovered the problem. Water was filled and flowing over both sinks. The faucets, however, were off, and dry. 

Out came all the towels that I have. Out came buckets to catch the water dripping from the ceiling downstairs. I scooped out the water from the sinks and poured it into the tub. Then I stood there dumfounded as I watched the water in the sinks rise from the drain.

I called the plumber and the woman on the phone declared it a plumbing emergency and I nodded my agreement as I was at a loss of words when hearing the obvious.  An excruciatingly long two hours later, the plumber arrived.

The plumber quickly assessed that the problem was a clog below where the air conditioning line drains into the sink drain on one of the two sinks in the master bath. Finding the clog, however, was a time-consuming and expensive process but as he went about his work he explained what he needed to do along the way, before he did it. The search involved a fiber optic camera, the attic, removal of the full wall mirror in my bathroom, removal of the full wall mirror in the guest bathroom that shares a wall with the master, and, as a last resort, several holes cut into the wall behind the master bath mirror.  It took five hours of searching on Sunday and four on Monday for the damn clog to be located.  Every two hours throughout the night on Sunday, I had to wake to drain the sinks into the tub. 

As I got up at 2:30 that morning to bail out the water, I laughed to myself that while Texas might be under a severe drought, my house certainly was not.

On Monday morning, when the clog had still not been located and the price was rising with each task, I called my insurance company. Because my father served in the Navy, I am a member of USAA and I know it's another company's slogan but I was in good hands. They explained to me that they would send a moisture remediation company to my house that afternoon to check for damage and to assess anything that would need to be removed to avoid mold growth, then they would send an interior restoration  company today to assess what it would take to put my house back together again. I had no idea the magnitude of the damage just beyond my eye, but they did.

What was the clog? A whole mess of nastiness that had snagged through the years in the interior of the PVC pipe that when the house was being constructed in 2002 someone broke while assembling (visible wrench marks) and instead of replacing, went ahead and shoved another pipe about a quarter of the way into it to provide a seal. That interior pipe formed a lip on which any and everything could and did snag. After nine years, the snagged stuff finally added up to one big plug in the drain so that when the air conditioning line, which is above the clog, drained, there was nowhere for that water to go but up through the sink drain and into the sink and then out of the sink and onto the floor, down through the sub floor and through the ceilings and onto the dining room floor.

What's the damage? As I write this, the moisture remediation team is knocking out the ceiling and one wall post in my living room. The hard wood floors have extensive damage (as determined from a pretty cool little tool called a moisture meter, in addition to the obvious waves in the previously flat wood planks) and those are being torn up next. Ten fans and three de-humidifiers are on my front porch. Upstairs, the guest and master bathrooms have holes drilled into the walls and patches of the walls have been cut out.  All the baseboards have been removed. Bags and bags of debris are on the sidewalk.

This afternoon, an interior restoration firm assessor will be here to provide an estimate for the repair of all the damage and destruction. The moisture remediation company estimates that the fans and de-humidifiers will get the areas dried by Friday, so construction can begin the week after next.

When the plumber first arrived on Sunday, he had a plunger in one hand and a jug of some heavy-duty clog dissolver in the other. I figured that he would be here for a half an hour, max, and then I would wash and dry all the towels and call it a day. HA! Isn't that funny? 

DSC00069  DSC00077 DSC00078  DSC00080

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday night

On Saturday night, three friends and I went to see Stevie Nicks in concert.  That's a sentence I've said or written many times in my life.  There are only a few bands or musicians that I have continued to follow from the time of discovering them and Stevie Nicks is certainly on that list, fittingly only behind Fleetwood Mac. So, when she comes through Houston, I am in the audience. This time, I got lucky because I purchased my tickets with points from my American Express card. And the tickets I purchased?  In the pit, which consists of six rows before the regular seating begins. Our seats were perfect and, to my delight, I discovered that the pit is also air-conditioned.  The venue is an outdoor venue and with the 100+ degree heat we've had lately, I assume the AC is for the benefit of the performers but we appreciated getting in on that little bit of temperature heaven.


The moon was full and the sky clear, lending a bit of magic and excitement to air. I didn't think I could get more excited than I was as we were walking into the venue but that moon put me over the top!


At several of the concerts I've recently attended, the rule on cameras has been not to allow cameras with interchangeable lenses. Fair enough, right?  As my friend said, there has to be some give somewhere because it's not as if they can take everyone's cell phones away. In the pit, however, cameras were strongly discouraged. And it was the job of a couple of people on the event staff to tap any would-be photographers on the shoulder and request they not take photos. I'm always up for a little hide and go seek with the camera police at concerts, and I'm happy to say that not once last night was my shoulder tapped.




She sang her heart out for her audience. She spun and twirled and wrapped her cape around her body, playing up her mystique to the delight of her fans. I know of no one else who receives such applause for simply twirling but its her trademark move and fans, including me, delight in it. She spoke to her audience, explaining songs and telling stories, and she expressed her gratitude after the applause died down. She's a gracious performer and truly the lady can rock. This concert was more about Stevie the writer and she included several of her new songs and kept the true gems from her previous albums.  It was less about the Welsh Witch, ribbons and costume changes, though when she came out with her gold cape before launching into Gold Dust Woman, the audience went nuts. As usual, I sang out loud right along with her, from the opening song, Stand Back to her new, For What It's Worth. I cried all through Landslide, swayed to Rhiannon and rocked out to Edge of Seventeen. It was quite a concert, such an extraordinarily fun evening of rock and roll.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

For Jessica

Jessica's outfit

My friend RocketMom commented on my last post asking if I'd also dress her up for the Stevie Nicks concert. This morning, I decided to take her up on it. Those boots alone are $1,500 but look how beautiful they are!  The ring?  Fourteen thousand dollars but, you know, what better way to accesorize a t-shirt than that glorious ring?  Also, we're pretending that tonight's Stevie Nicks concert is not in August but, say, late October.  I hope you enjoy, RocketMom. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Saturday night

For the concert

On Saturday, for the maybe 20th time, I'm going to see Stevie Nicks in concert. I'll be wearing black sandals, a white skirt and a wonderfully soft grey v-neck t-shirt.  That's fine and all but what I would really like to be wearing is the ensemble I pulled together, above.  Seriously, that dress and those shoes!  Of course, if I could afford a two thousand dollar dress by Alexander McQueen and seven hundred dollar Guiseppe Zanotti shoes, it's highly unlikely I'd be wearing them to a concert, but a girl can dream, can't she?  Oh yes she can!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

While I was away

Last weekend I drove my niece to Nacogdoches where her boyfriend was meeting us to pick her up and drive her back to Louisiana. Although the hotel we stayed in was pet friendly, I didn't want to put Cheyenne through a three-hour drive two days in a row and I didn't want to endure Dixie through the same.  So, the dogs went to my friend's house for Saturday afternoon and evening.

My friend has a big yellow Lab named Abby.  Abby is a sweet girl and much more tolerant of Dixie than Cheyenne.  Thankfully, my friend pulled out her camera!




Abby even shared her crate!


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Getting the message


My sweet girl. Those eyes are telling me to put down the camera already and feed her.  Because I am a minute late and she is STARVING.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

My girls


They are sleeping so close together that, for Cheyenne, this could be considered a full embrace.

Monday, August 01, 2011

For the dogs

Yesterday, Dixie turned 14 weeks old.  She's grown so fast in the past six weeks, and most of that growth seems to be in her ears, legs and feet.

This picture was taken during her first week here. It was a rare quiet moment she shared with my niece. 


She likes to sit on Cheyenne's bed on the front porch, which is cool except that she also likes to get up and sprint under the front gate and out onto the sidewalk.  And that is not cool because that's too close to the street. She's almost too big to do that, so for now and until she grows a bit more, her porch and yard activites are limited to the back where the fence is solid wood to the ground.



She's a sweet puppy but she's also a terror.  She likes to chew anything and everything she can wrap her mouth around.  Table legs, books, furniture corners, shoes, dog beds, and my hands and feet.  I keep a supply of toys and rawhide chews throughout the house to divert her whenever she's headed in the wrong chewing direction.  Baby gates and crate training help me keep an eye on her. Also? All my bookshelves look like some version of this kitchen bookshelf now:


She's a Coonhound, so her barks roll into baying and I have discovered that I love that sound.  Barking?  Not so much.  Baying?  Absolutely.  She's expressive with her needs, likes and dislikes, and is learning to bark at the door when she wants in or out. 

Formal training, for both of us, begins in a couple weeks.  For now, she's safest and quietest when she's sleeping.


The photo below of Dixie and my niece is the most recent I have of Dix.  I think that if you scroll up to the earlier photo of the two of them, you will see the rapid growth we are experiencing around here!  I apologize for the blur.  Unless she's asleep, she is constantly on the move.


And what of Cheyenne? I'm proud of her as she's adjusting well. I even caught her playing with Dixie the other day. Mostly though, she ignores Dixie and chooses me as her play buddy.  Which is just fine with me.