Bluebird Down

The pursuit of domestic bliss, one glorious debacle at a time.

Scout and Her Latin Lovers August 27, 2011

Scout, caught on the couch. Gateway behavior to her alternative lifestyle.

Scout, AKA Backyard Kitty, has a squirrel boyfriend. We named him Raul. She shares her expensive Old Girl Cat Food with him. I suspect she wants to share her igloo cat house with him. Raul is not a stay-the-night kind of squirrel though. I can see it in his eyes. I try to tell her that she can’t trust a squirrel that sits on the corner of the fence and yells at her mom. If he were a Real Squirrel, he would come up on the deck and say hello properly.

Turns out that she may have taken my advice, but not told Raul. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. Friday morning to the horrific sound of an animal trapped under our kitchen cabinets. It was scratching to get out with its teeth, and claws and broken bones. Z had already been dealing with it for an hour before I woke up. He tried to get Mike the Toothless Cat and Pete! the Wonder Pup to meow, bark or scratch in defensive of our home. Apparently they looked at the cabinet and turned around and went back to their beds. The scratching coming from the cabinet turned my stomach. I banged on the door with my Life is Good water bottle. The scratching stopped. Z thought it was a mouse. No way, I said. That’s bigger than a mouse. Oh no, I bet it’s a squirrel. We concluded we had a R. Kelly Trapped in the Closet scenario going on under my soup pots. There’s a new squirrel in the cat house. We named him Julio. I hope he’s good looking, because he’s obviously too stupid to find his way out from under the house. [How did he get under there anyway?!] Every time he scratched, I banged on the counter. I’m sure he was frightened, but I have a general lack of compassion at 4 a.m. I have to sleep, I whined to Zef. He set up his iPad to play gun show podcasts for the poor squirrel. As I fell back to sleep, Z said the podcasts were working. I said the squirrel probably passed out from boredom. Or maybe that was the final push he needed to save himself. No scratching has been heard in 24 hours. Run free, Julio.

Hopes to Finish Reading Today So I Can Start Sarah’s Key: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Training Log: The Holden Uganda Run for Water 5K was cancelled due to Hurricane Irene. Off to the gym this morning if the power stays on.


Extreme Makeover: Backyard Edition August 1, 2011

Dank. Dark. Pretty freakin’ scary – even in the daylight. That was our garage. Then one lucky day in April a ginormous tree fell on our rat den. From the proverbial ashes, my vision of a Backyard BBQ Palace has risen.


We were so happy the day we closed on our first house that we didn't care that the previous owner left 40 years worth of junk in the detached garage.



Happiness turned to disbelief as it took us an entire weekend to rip out the makeshift work benches and haul the dilapidated wood out to the curb. The neighbors were thrilled it took the city three weeks to pick it up.



After the clean-up. We thought it would be a good idea to leave at least one work bench. Not that smart. It was so rotten and covered with decaying bug bodies that no one went near it.



A message left from a past resident. I suspect they mean "Daddy" rather than "Dade," but I could be wrong. Either way, the kid can't spell.



Told you a ginormous tree fell on our garage. This was before it really settled in.



It took 10 days of men working from early morning to late afternoon to replace the roof. It's probably the best roof ever built.



The swanky new roof covering a cavernous wasteland inside.



Let the painting commence! I probably don't deserve a husband that not only tolerates, but participates, in my harebrained schemes.



Three buckets of paint and four trips to Home Depot later, the walls are nice and white. Floor ready to be primed and painted.



Fully painted garage. Yes, that is a blue floor. Thanks for asking. I was trying to decide if the wall tapestry we brought back from St. Lucia would work with our new digs or if it just makes us look like a backyard militia. If it does, we'd be the only militia representing with hand painted linen.



Z put the flying pig welcome sign above the garage door. That's love.


I’m the scourge of the neighborhood. September 6, 2010

Filed under: Destruction of Property,House Oddities,Yard Renovation — Teri @ 8:11 pm

Partners in Crime: Evil Prickly Bush and the WTF Juniper Bonsai Thing (surrounded by various dead things)

My neighbors eye my yard wearily. My grass is too high. My rose bush is overgrown. There is dead rosemary in the corner. The Evil Prickly Bush leers at me. [I swear that thing drinks blood instead of water.] Simply put, my yard is rough. I’ve wanted to rip up the yard since we bought the house last summer. Zef rolled his eyes and other projects diverted my attention, so Evil Prickly Bush and the WTF Juniper Bonsai Thing have enjoyed a stay of execution.

But it is time, my friends. All mercy has been exhausted.

People on my street take their yards very seriously. As I type, at least three lawn mowers are running and I can see one neighbor digging in her flower beds. It’s clear that Zef and I need to pick up our game. Zef, by the way, declared himself in charge of the yard. This was, I like to remind him, when we lived in a condo. He’s been deployed for most of our time in the house; therefore, he, too, gets a stay of execution — for now.

My living room floor is covered with old copies of Southern Living. I rip out photos of yards I like. The “dang, that looks like a lot of work” photos end up in trash pile with the subscription cards. I’ve been flipping through a gardening book from the 70’s that my mom had sitting on her bookshelf for ages. They were really into scary chemicals back then. I compare the merits of fescue grass seed against Bermuda grass. I calculate the environmental impact of fertilizing. I wander around Bell’s Seed and Owen Garden until I get a headache. Leave it to me to over analyze a flower.

It’s time to start digging and stop pondering. Next weekend.


Einstein’s Suits August 29, 2010

Filed under: House Oddities,Tradition — Teri @ 8:26 pm

Told ya.

Judging by my obsessive need of lists, you would think I had been bumped on the head with a pineapple like Drew Barrymore’s character in 50 First Dates. My lists detail the most average daily activities — brush teeth, take out contacts, set alarm (all on my Bedtime To Do List).

One of my favorite rumors about Albert Einstein is that he wore the same suit everyday so he wouldn’t have to think about mundane details like what to wear in the morning. I doubt that it’s true, but I certainly like the theory behind it.

My lists are like Einstein’s suits.

A friend who saw my Morning To Do list said, “You have to remind yourself to leave the house?” Yes. “And since when do you wear makeup?” Well, it’s on the list, so it can happen any day now.

There is a Weekend To Do List (laundry, grocery shop), a Monthly To Do List (clip Mike the Cat’s claws, Petsmart run), a Weekly List reminding me to… wait for it… take out the trash. There are lists within lists. I mean, really, what good does it do to go to the grocery store (from the Weekend To Do List) without a list of things to get? The results can be tragic. I forgot to put carrots on this week’s grocery list and now I am facing a week of carrotless lunches.

There are colored index cards tacked to my bulletin board with lists of places to go, things to do, things to see. There is a theory that you are more likely to do something if you write it down first. One can hope.

Guess what’s new on the Daily To Do List? That’s right. Post to blog. Check.


Making Friends with the Garbage Guys July 29, 2010

Filed under: House Oddities — Teri @ 8:41 am

So this may be an exaggeration.

I hate waking up to the sound of the garbage truck. Inevitability, what follows is the sickening realization that it’s Thursday and, once again, I forgot to put out the bin. Three weeks in a row. The contents of the bin are truly too horrid to describe — especially after being exposed to 100 degree heat for nearly a month. The backyard is going to be like Disneyland for vermin if I don’t get that bin to that truck.

I flung open the front door and stepped out to assess the situation. Indeed, the garbage men were right there. So close, in fact, that one looked at me all cock-eyed because I’m sure I looked crazed. I spun around, bolted through the house and beat it out the backdoor. Backyard Kitty was there to block me. She had no food or water and, as far as she was concerned, I was not getting past her. She tried to take me out going down the deck steps, but I leaped over her. I cornered the decked, got to the gate, unlocked it (pull the pin, slide the bolt, puuusssssh the door), moved the recycling bin, grabbed the garbage bin and took off in pursuit of the garbage truck. I couldn’t go between my neighbor’s truck and my car, no room. I opted to squeeze between my car and half-dead magnolia bush. I ran over those cute yellow and pink flowers — sorry, little fellas. I jumped the curb and hit the blacktop running. I was in open air. I could really fly now.

The garbage men were already five houses down. They’re an efficient bunch. The Cock-Eyed Garbage Man spotted me first. Here was this pudgy chick with red curls sprung out wildly all over her head (even standing straight up, I’m proud to say), pulling a garbage bin that is practically as tall as she is. Seriously, it’s as tall as my shoulders. So I’m running down the street, trying to keep my pj bottoms up. I made the unfortunate choice to wear the roomy pj bottoms last night. The legs extend past my toes and, even as I walk around the house, I have to keep tugging at the waist to keep them up. And, now, here I am running past the neighbors in all my glory.

The garbage man couldn’t help but laugh. “I had to catch you,” I told him. “I keep forgetting to put the bin out,” I explained. “It smells awful!” we all agreed. (And you know it’s disgusting when the garbage men are impressed.) One garbage man caught the giggles so bad that he snorted. “Do you want us to start honking the horn when we come by your house,” he asked. “Can you do that?!?!,” I gasped. “No. It was a joke.” he deadpanned. “Besides, this was funny. We need to do it again.” he chuckled. And with that, they were off…


Philosophy and the Sweet Potato July 19, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Food,House Oddities — Teri @ 10:52 am

Pre-Clean Up

I needed to clean out the refrigerator, so I would have an idea of what was edible enough for dinner. It was looking a little woolly in there. A thought occurred to me as I stepped back surveying the job. It’s said that your bookshelf says a lot about you — your hopes, your fears, your talents, your challenges. I wonder what the content of your refrigerator says about you? If too much German philosophy on your bookshelf exposes your nihilistic tendencies, then what does a drawer full of rotten tomatoes say about you? [Surprisingly similar results?]

In an effort to leave no stone unturned in the continuing quest for peace, happiness and organization, I expose the heart of my kitchen for you:

Out of date eggs – 3 left in the carton

Loaf of wheat bread

Apple sauce

3 bottles of Pinot Grigio

Water pitcher

Tea pitcher

Out of date hummus

Out of date ranch dressing

More wheat bread

Out of date wheat english muffins

Whitewheat hamburger buns

Whitewheat hot dog buns (2 left from the 4th of July)

Out of date wheat hamburger buns

Some borderline looking cherries

1 pint of cherry tomatoes

2 pints of too-recently-purchased-to-be-moldy raspberries

2 pints of blackberries – make that 1 pint 🙂

Mircale Whip

Dill pickle relish

Half a bottle of Beasley’s Best BBQ Sauce

1 bottle of Blue Moon

1 bottle of Honey Moon

Half a pack of Sargento reduced fat swiss

Half pack of turkey

Trader Joe’s cheese sticks

Half pack of Sargento reduced fat pepper jack

Partial pack of Kraft Singles 2% American Cheese

7 packs of Starkist white tuna

Feta cheese that I will probably forget about

1 Hebrew National hot dog (note that are two hot dog buns left though)

7 bottles of Harris Teeter lime seltzer

5 bottles of lemon-lime G2

1 bunch of collards

1 bunch of kale

1 half rotten green pepper

Half a container of romaine lettuce

1 leek (just 1)

6 sad looking ears of corn

4 sweet potatoes

1 butternut squash

1 spaghetti squash

3 cucumbers (1 slightly suspect)

Half bunch of asparagus that needs to be eaten today or tossed

1 tiny zucchini

2 pack of carrots – 1 out of date

A gaggle of baby red potatoes

4 ripe red tomatoes

1 bag of baby spinach

2 fuzzy peaches – and not in a good way – whoops, make that 3 fuzzy peaches

2 lemons

1 container of Land O’ Lakes Light Butter

Almost empty bottle of 100% grapefruit juice

Blackberry jam

Black grape jam

Apple butter

Minced garlic

Homemade peanut butter (but not made in my home)

Almost empty bag of dried cranberries (last used at christmas, I think)

Newman’s Own ranch dressing

Kraft caesar vinaigrette

Balsamic vinegar (which i’ve never taken a liking to, but will give another shot)

Worcestershire sauce (great with grilled oysters!)


Lemon juice

Skim milk

Ortega salsa that I think we’ve had for 3 years

Grated parmesan cheese

Lime juice


Out of date mustard

Grey Poupon

Mojito mixer


Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake Mix

1/12 of a pack of Coke

Major lesson learned from this observation: I buy too much food, especially for a person that doesn’t cook. Second observation: I probably wouldn’t be struggling to zip up my jeans if I stuck to the vegetables. I love lists — they can tell you so much about yourself.


Still life with cardboard July 15, 2010

Filed under: House Oddities — Teri @ 5:27 pm

The Evil Twins

Oh, how these boxes mock me!

At the beginning of summer, I decided my sanity could no longer tolerate the clutter that lurked in every corner of our home. The problem is that Z and I never properly purged our belongings when we moved in together. Mostly my things sat piled up in corners in the condo. I only unpacked my clothes and necessities. We lived like that for almost two years. And when we moved into the house, we made no attempt to pare down what we owned — so along came two irons, two brooms, two too many dressers. It was Noah’s Ark for the Organizationally Challenged.

I started by organizing the office/guest room/whatisthis?idon’tknow.putitinthere room. I put our financial files in order. I assembled the desk. I hooked up electronics. I dumped drawers and restocked. I put Z’s DVDs in alphabetical order. [Now, before you scoff, the man had three and four copies of his favorite movies all because he couldn’t remember if he owned them already.] It took three days and there was more than one “Oh cool, I forgot we had this!” moment.

The next dreaded task was the bathroom with it’s multitudes of half-empty conditioner bottles. Then it was the laundry room cupboards filled with wires and pipes and nails left from the previous owner, who I believe was gifted the items from the owner before him. I moved on to the bedroom, which wasn’t that bad actually. And now I’m back at the kitchen… and the two boxes. Those two boxes have been shoved to the side for more than a year. The contents are a mystery to me. In reality, it would probably take all of 15 minutes to empty both boxes, put away the items and break down the cardboard. Oh, but what if it isn’t that easy?! What if there is just more clutter in there? Or worse… a colony of creatures that have set up house — and shop. How I dread to open these boxes. But they are the last two. I just need to do it. Get it over with. Declare my house clutter free and move on with my life.