On a roll

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

For real though, if you have never had to mow your own lawn, thank your lucky stars.  I picked up my mower last night from "the doctor," paid $50 and drove straight home to try it out.  My work outfit for the day included a black skirt with a slight ruffle and a silk 3/4 length sleeves top with black flats.  With my determination in overdrive, I almost buzzed through the yard in that.  But no, didn't want the neighbors to think I'd finally lost it so I opted for a more appropriate mowing look: cut off jeans, tennis shoes and a t-shirt with my hair pulled back.  Speaking of pulling, I only had to tug on the start line twice before the Snapper fired up.  It worked!

Never, ever, in my life have I been excited about a piece of lawn equipment but I had to almost keep the smile off my face as the tracks of shorter grass stretched out behind me.  The week before (my first time mowing) it took me 2 hours to defeat the front and the back yard and I was determined this week to get it done in half the time.  I worked hard.  I walked faster.  I pushed harder and learned how to spin the mower around when I made it to the end of the strip.

There's a physical and mental challenge every person faces during the tedious job.  When the machine comes alive your body gets a small jolt of adrenaline.  It's working...start the job!  About half way through the yard, your mind starts to wander, you get bored and try to refocus.  Then, when you have about five long rows left to mow, your body tends to give out.  I had to breathe like I do when I exercise hard (a few good exhales through the mouth) in order to clear my head.  Then, I gave myself a little pep talk.  "Almost there.  You've got this.  Keep going!"  Finally, the last row of tall grass is in front of you and a feeling of elation sets in - almost finished!  Then, you wipe the sweat from your brow and inhale.  There's such pride in a job well done.

After mowing, rinsing the mower in water from my rain barrel and watering some of the plants, I went inside.  It had only taken me 45 MINUTES to get the work done.  Maybe I can get it down to 20 minutes.  Is it possible to run while mowing?  Kidding...

Sushi at Tomo

My friend Dave (who I've known for almost 10 years) is Violet's Godfather.  He cares for her when I'm out of town and even buys her things like a brush when she's shedding.  (Awww...)

We both like sushi so we decided to try Tomo in Fountain City.  Sunday night is half-price roll night.  Score!

Tomo even serves a South African wine - who knew?

Beautiful presentation, good food.  

We even sat on the floor on cushions in the space reserved for traditional dining. 

Even though the price was certainly right, we've decided Nama is a better choice for sushi in Knoxville.  Tomo had a pretty bad gnat problem (fished them out of my wine glass 3 times) and the service wasn't great. Still, it is so much fun to try new spots and the company was perfect.

Fix it

Sunday, 25 July 2010
Our dear friend Brent gave me a walk-behind mower he no longer uses.  It is a Snapper and will start but won't run.  I've put on a new spark plug (with help from a frirend) and that didn't help.  It has oil and it has gas.  What to do? 

Advice I've gotten so far:

Change the air filter
Replace the diaphragm on the carburetor
Drain the gas and put in new gas

I've also learned from a neighbor and through research online that a mower is a relatively simple machine.  It needs air, fire (ignition) and gas.  I know it has air and it has gas so there must be something with the "fire" element.

This is frustrating because I finally learned how to mow!  Last week the grass was getting so high, I borrowed my next-door neighbor's push mower to give it a go.  It quit twice during my mow-a-thon and I pulled and pulled and pulled (after priming of course) and had such a hard time getting it started. 

It took two hours in the hot, hot sun to get the lawn completed and afterwards I had to go inside and lay down on the kitchen floor to cool my body temperature.  (Bit dramatic, I know.)  The feeling of finishing the job was empowering and have I mentioned - I adore being a homeowner.

Mowing is not easy and wow - I almost feel like I had the easy list of chores (cleaning, ironing, laundry) when we were growing up.  My brother mowed.  Poor kid.

If you have a riding mower you'd like to lend me, just say the word.  Also, if your company would like me to test a riding mower and blog about it, feel free to contact me.  Ha! 

Do you mow or pay someone to do it for you?

Say no to PayPal

Friday, 23 July 2010
A word to the wise:  do not use PayPal while shopping or selling on Ebay or Etsy.  I have learned my lesson.  PayPal is now holding payments for 21 days in an escrow account. That means, if you sell an item, you may not get your money for almost a month.  PayPal (which is owned by Ebay's parent company) can collect interest on the money (beyond the fees they charge!).  
This is horribly inconvenient to sellers who regularly sell and ship items.  Why?  Because many of us use the funds to ship, restock or list items.  Now, not only do you have to wait for payment, sometimes you have to prove the item was delivered which can be time consuming and puts all of the burden on the seller.
Many PayPal users are outraged by this new practice and plan to start using PayMate instead.  I am  switching as well.

Southern fish fry

Thursday, 22 July 2010
Our good friend Larsen is a wiz with a fishing rod. He recently went out on the lake and came back with loads of Striped Bass.  Sooo he a few friends over for a real, southern fish fry.  I documented the fun for Kingsley who has never deep-fried fish.  Behold:

Gorgeous and read for priming.

Larsen shows how, with bass, the blood vein needs to be removed and the filets are cut around it.

The secret ingredient: special batter!

Michelle and Larsen dip the fish in the batter and it goes into the hot oil.

Mmmm healthy (not) but oh-so-delicious.

Perfectly complimented by "chips."

A little bit of sea salt and some tartar sauce...

Rave reviews from little Henry, Adrian and Larsen's son.

The fish fry was a fabulous success!

Another family member

Tuesday, 20 July 2010
I was in the garden on Saturday night and quite upset.  Kingsley and I were not seeing eye to eye on my desire to provide a home for a cat from the shelter.  He was certain that cats need to be able to go outdoors and mostly in my culture, cats stay indoors to prevent rabies and the like.  We could not agree.

After our phone conversation, I went outside to pound around in the garden.  I filled at least 10 watering cans from my rain barrel to put onto the garden and the flowers in the flower boxes under my front windows. I do love my rain barrel.  But while I was outside, I noticed my neighbor had laid some beautiful flowers to transplant near my front porch.  It was time to go into action.

Since I didn't have my tools out, on impulse, I grabbed a thin, jagged rock from under my deck and started jarring it into the soil in my back flower bed.  I dug and dug using it as a tool to move dirt.  It was exhilarating.  I washed my hands afterwards in the stream from my rain barrel.  Before I went inside, I also shook my huge, beautiful flower basket on my back deck as the wind would, loosening dead heads.

Being outside in the quiet of the night cleared my head.  The next morning I found out, Kingsley may just give in on another kitty so I'm preparing our nest. :)

Some people are amazing

Sunday, 18 July 2010

It's hard to see the damage from the street now that the fire crews are gone.  You can see the front door crumpled on the sidewalk on the left side of the picture.  Today was a great day to be a reporter.  I had a positive story to report.

Firefighter Jeff Nichols was driving to work this morning around 6am when he noticed smoke from the interstate.  He took a downtown Knoxville exit and the smoke got a little heavier.  He followed his instincts and rushed to 11th street where he noticed smoke and small flames pouring from 2 Victorian houses.

Nichols beat on the door of the blue house and figured out no one was home.  He then started knocking on the next house's door.  It wasn't locked so he went in.  There were 5 University of Tennessee students asleep in the house and another guy who had just graduated upstairs in a bedroom.  Nichols started yelling for everyone to get out.  He even had to drag a guy outside who wouldn't wake up.  The smoke alarm was going off but no one heard it.  Everyone got out safely.

We interviewed a Knoxville Fire Department captain on our newscast this morning to tell the story of the rescue.  Some people are amazing. 

I talked with Nichols later in the day and he was very humble.  He said he did what any other firefighter would have done.  If Nichols had decided to keep driving and let his crew members check out the smoke, the students may not be alive now. 

Lessons from the garden

Thursday, 15 July 2010
I feel like I've learned so much in just a few short weeks about gardening!  A few of the lessons:

1. Every living thing in the garden needs space.  The more space it has, the more likely it is to get lots of sunshine and not have to fight for water.

2. There are natural ways to keep the pests at bay.  I will plant Marigolds on the corners of the garden next year.    Bugs do not like them.

3. Vines need structure.  Plants such as tomato, squash and cucumber need support and in the case of true vines, they need something to cling to.  I plan to put out little structures next year so they can move up and out.    (I'm believing Kings will be here by then so I'll have an assistant. Ha!)

4. Gardening is very relaxing and yields more than just fruit.  My stress level drops immediately when I step into the quiet, cool garden.  I usually water and dead-head at night when the sun is slowly dropping behind the tall trees in my back yard.  The bugs tend to come out then but I wear OFF and smile to myself when I see a tiny tomato starting.

5. When you are finally at your wit's end and you think your plants will not bear fruit, you will suddenly notice blooms popping up in the dozens!  Patience is key.

In A Hurry?

Monday, 12 July 2010
We were rushing to a story while following all traffic laws.  The light turned green and the SUV in front of us didn't move.  It was a woman in a white Lexus.  We waited.  My photographer lightly honked his horn since she wasn't paying attention and the other lane was moving.  She threw up her hands in front of us and waved them.  We were surprised but thought nothing of it.

At the next light, we pulled up beside her.  She rolled down her passenger side window and my photographer rolled his down as well.  The woman was well dressed, someone you'd expect manners from.  She leaned over and yelled, "Are you in a big hurry!?"  We couldn't believe it. 

I said, "The light was green."  She rolled up her window as did my photographer.  She rolled down her window again and so did he.  She yelled "Stupid b*tch!" 

What is wrong with people?  I still can't believe the exchange.  Next time I will politely jot down her plate number and call the police.  She must be intoxicated to act so strangely at 2 in the afternoon.  Grrrr.

Good 'Ole Rocky Top

Friday, 9 July 2010

College football programs are going down the pooper.  It doesn't matter where you live, be it in Eugene, Oregon or Knoxville, Tennessee, for some reason star players feel they don't have to regulate their behavior or follow rules.

Case in point:  The University of Oregon's quarterback allegedly steals some frat guy's laptop and surprise! gets charged with the crime.  Another Duck player allegedly chokes his "girlfriend" in the parking lot outside his place.  Assault charges.

Last night, according to police, Vol football players were involved in a fight at a bar and bam! at least one of them gets kicked off the team.  2 were arrested and an off-duty cop is still in the hospital after getting hit in the head.

Why do they do it?  Are we teaching our college athletes that they are too cool for school? Seriously. Is it a mix of testosterone, alcohol and egos or is it immaturity and stupidity?  OR are fans just too caught up in the game hype to realize we are all only as smart as what we support?  Shouldn't we demand more from our coaches, players and University leadership?

Makes me sad.  I'd love to see UT graduate a few more engineers and scientists.  Why pay for guys who don't seem to care to eek out a degree and go to prison the next year?  It's embarrassing.

Almost 50 cents to mail a bill?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010
This is going to make me sound old but I remember when a can of Coke was 50 cents.  Now you have to pay almost that much to mail a letter or even worse, a bill. 

Today the United States Postal Service announced they'll raise the price of a stamp to 46 cents.  That is crazy!  I know the USPS has to somehow generate funds but come on.  Just like other businesses in this down economy there needs to be cut backs including employees and employee benefits.

One of the aspects of the USPS in Knoxville that infuriates me the most:  no automated machines!  This is 2010.  In tiny Eugene, Oregon, I could go into almost any post office after hours and mail items. The automated machines also allow service Priority and Express mail needs.  I was able to keep my online vintage business running nicely this way but recently I haven't done a thing with it. With a full time job and no lunch break, I can't make it in during USPS business hours to mail anything! 

All USPS offices should have automated machines (again the 2010 thing).  Then, we also wouldn't have to wait in line 10 people deep while only one teller slowly serves customers.  I think that's part of supply and demand which makes money for businesses.  The USPS has been operating sub-par for so long, customers now use online services, UPS and Fed Ex to transport items. 

I've changed all of my bills and banking to online transactions so I don't have to deal with the post office.  I also do most of my shopping online if possible so I don't have to stand in line at my local office waiting, waiting, waiting to ship something out.

To take it a step farther, I think the gov should regulate bill pay and ask all companies to offer an online system.  I have two school loans that only allow mail-in bill pay.  What is that?  They may have a conspiracy going with USPS to stay in the 1990s...

Don't Miss It

Sunday, 4 July 2010

I dreamt that someone called out "One minute!" and I suddenly realized I needed to anchor a news cut-in in 60 seconds but I wasn't at the news station.  There was a horse next to me (??) so I jumped on it and galloped up hill to work.

I wasn't going to make it in time and my heart was pounding because I was certain I'd lose my job.  Someone answered the door (like a house) and said, "Don't worry.  We taped it for you."  Not sure the meaning of the dream but I was relieved.

Have you dreamed anything interesting lately?