Amazon overload.

I am addicted to Amazon Prime.   I use it for purchasing nearly everything other than groceries.   And I’ve been placing so many orders lately, the UPS man is wearing out the front walkway.  I guess it’s time I took a break, though.

The clutter (virtual and physical) in my life is reaching a new peak.   We have, admittedly, been processing a spike in household paperwork / accounting that requires more of my attention, what with the monthly household bill paying, insurance paperwork for the Audi, buying the new boat, insuring the new boat, registering the boat, processing Monte’s retirement paperwork, converting 401Ks to IRAs, moving the new retiree to my insurance, etc etc etc.  We somehow misplaced one of the new ATM cards for our accounts that arrived a few weeks ago.   I also have this nagging feeling that I need to double check our estimated fed income tax payments.  I’m about 2 months behind on niece & nephew birthday cards (!).  Work-work is piling up too, and traveling a week or so every month is not helping either on the household-organizational front.

The Amazon “stuff” just went on top of that pile.

I have been trying to get the return authorizations processed for 2 boat-related items that I ordered from Amazon recently that I wanted to return.  Today I realized that I returned the wrong item to Amazon, using one of Amazon’s return authorizations.  And I have the Amazon item here in my office with the return authorization for a 3rd party vendor. The nice UPS man came by and picked up the first item before I realized the mistake.


Luckily the nice-man at 1-800-please-help-me-Amazon said he’d figure it out for me.

I hereby impose a 2 week moratorium on ordering anything from Amazon.  And I resolve to reduce the huge pile of paperwork piled up on my home office desk on one of the days I hope to take off around labor day.



I realize there are people struggling with real problems out there.   This is definitely not one of them.  But it just turns out to be something to feed my blog for today. 🙂   Enjoy the rest of the week!

Lenny the Leaf.

Fooled me.

This morning as I was walking by the kitchen window I notice a leaf that appeared to have blown up and gotten stuck to the hummingbird feeder.  I figured it was a remnant from some of the wind gusts during the weekend rain.   When I took a closer look, i saw that it was not a leaf, but a moth or butterfly of some sort.

Very effective camouflage, i must say.

Scenes from the wayback.

A caption for this shot escapes me — you’ll have to supply your own

On one of my trips out to the shop in the wayback part of the yard today to see what Monte was up to, I encountered this little art exhibit.

He’s been talking about wanting to make a sundial.  But I don’t think this is it.

The story behind the shot:  Monte is very fond of colored bandanas / hankies, and won’t get dressed without having one or two of these in his pocket.   He uses them for pretty much everything.  Well, last weekend he declared that he was running low and came back from a shopping run with a couple dozen bright, crisp, new colored bandanas.   They bleed profusely, though for the first 5 – 10 washes.  So he’s taken to washing them in a bucket of saltwater to set the colors.  This is apparently the drying cycle for the latest batch.  🙂


Wanna come see me?!

Have you ever known of a parakeet that comes when you call it?  Monte and I think it’s a pretty cool trick.   Working from home today, I left Keeto in the kitchen on his perch in the window.  My office is all the way on the other side of the house down a hall with several doors off of it.  After a while I called Keeto…  and aimed the camera at the door.  It wasn’t too long that I heard him flapping down the hall and caught a few pics of him coming into my office… landing on my hand a couple seconds later.

The pictures aren’t too good.  He repeated the trick a few times and I used a couple of different shutter speeds.  This was the best sequence I captured.

It’s a bird… no, it’s a plane… no, it IS a bird.  Pretty bird!

Robert Plant, age 25.

Born again – Dracaena marginata.

August 1987.  I had just flown across the country to attend graduate school, and moved into a small 1 bedroom apartment.  I bought myself a small 3″ potted plant – a dracaena.  I thought it would brighten up the place.  It didn’t even reach to the bottom of the power outlet when it was sitting on the floor.  I christened him Robert Plant.

As I moved from place to place, i dragged Robert along with me – 25 years, 6 moves, 3 states.

In the past few years Robert grew to tower 11 or 12 feet high, with three or four trunks.  But, this last winter, I left Robert out one night too many – and he experienced a hard freeze.  I thought it was the end for my green friend.  He sat in the garage untended all winter and most of the spring with brown leaves, showing no signs of life.

A couple of months ago, we hauled a dead Robert out into the backyard and cut off all his stalks.  Monte was thinking about reusing the pot.  But we didn’t dump out the pot; left it there for a while, and it was watered along with all the other plants nearby.

And, just a few weeks back, what to my wondering eyes did appear?  But a tiny green tuft of leaves growing bigger every day.  Robert lives!  Welcome back, buddy!

Form over function.

Funny looking tree.

I do love driving up north of New York City.  In about a span of 5-10 minutes the scenery quickly turns from city sprawl to forest, hills, rocks and streams.   I can drive the route between La Guardia Aiport to Somers in my sleep.   There’s one sight on the Hutchinson River Parkway at about exit 24 that always makes me chuckle – a curious looking pine tree.

I decided to take of picture of it as I was zooming by in traffic today, on my way back to the airport.

Tree or not a tree?  🙂

Tuesday. Tax day. Traveling. And a troll.

Troll doll.

At the party, over the weekend, several little kids were there… all about 2 years old.  Monte brought out a box of toy trains and track that they played with at the picnic table on the patio.  I think these were toys that he had as a kid.  In the box was an old troll doll. Remember these guys?    I couldn’t resist….

To those fellow-procrastinators out there…. get those tax returns in today!

I’m off to New York for the week.  Ta-ta!

Wonderful weekend.

Elvis sighting.

We started out this evening with dinner at Z-Tejas downtown with the visiting Three.   Frozen mango marg and a salad for me.   Delicious!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday night… a trifecta of fun.

Walking to our car after dinner, we stopped by a statue store to take some pics.  Ran into the King.   Then we headed over to Lori’s to play a few rounds of a game that Denyse told us about… called Telepictionary.  It goes roughly like this… each person writes a sentence at the top of a piece of paper.  Then they pass it to the right and the next person draws their interpretation of the sentence.  That person folds over the sentence, so the next person can only see their drawing.  And the next person then must write a sentence that captures what their interpretation of the drawing is.  Then this person folds over the drawing and passes the paper to the next person, who can only see the sentence that they wrote from the previous drawing.  This goes on for several more passes.   We had 7 people playing tonight.  When the paper makes its way back to the person who wrote the original sentence at the top of the page, the round is over.

It’s funny to compare the original sentence to the last one on the page.  The shot below is of one my sentences after having made it around the table.

You get the idea.

I love a good party.

Retirement crown.

We had a fun time at Lori’s Friday night.  Tonight we threw a party to celebrate Monte’s retirement.  It was a blast.  I wish every day was a Saturday, with a party  🙂

Monte got a lot of funny gifts:   a double-barreled beer helmet, retiree t-shirt, this lovely retirement crown, wine & champers, a giant inflatable tentacle (yep), to name a few.  The retirement crown was given to him by another friend named Lori, who retired last week herself.   She wore this at her party.   We will pass it on to the next retiree, who will pass it on to the next person that retires, and so on…until all our friends are dead… speaking of which… one gift was a funny little picture book for adults called All my friends are dead.  You can read part of it online here.

Tomorrow… clean up the party and finalize my tax return…

Eastside eats.

Dinner at Justine's.

Tonight I went out to dinner with some friends to celebrate a couple of birthdays.  We picked a place in East Austin for tonight – Justine’s on E 5th – a casual french bistro.  It was my first time here.  The food and wine was delicious.  I recommend the scallops, though the sauce was a tad bit spicy.

The place was crowded and hopping after about 8 o’clock.  And it got very noisy by the time we left about 9:30.  Apparently this is a hot spot hangout for lots of the beautiful people in town. 🙂

It’s starting to get warm these days, but it was still cool enough to sit outside.  In their courtyard they had a huge neon sign of a burlesque dancer that I wish turned out better, but here ’tis.


Happy Birthday to Irene & Lori!

Dinner and a movie.

Best movie theater. Ever.

We rarely go out to a movie, choosing instead to watch them at home on the DVR.  When we do go out, we go to the Alamo Drafthouse, where we can eat dinner and have a few drinks while watching the movie.

Last night, we saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.   It’s a book that I have started reading several times, but have yet to finish.  Ususally I don’t want to see a movie until I’ve read the book it’s based on.  But for this one, I was willing to bend the rule.  Monte has read several of the books in this series, ravenously.  So, he was eager to see it.

** Spoiler Alert **

I liked the movie, it has a very complicated story line and set of characters.  I’m all for realism and all, but ….. I have to say that I just can’t appreciate the “art” associated with acting out a rape scene in a movie.  Yeah.  I guess I’m just old school – and getting older school it seems.

I think, tonight, catching up on episodes of season 1 of Downton Abbey is much more my speed.  🙂

Not exactly street legal.

1926 Model T

Our friend, Dan, has a car problem.  He has been building a modified old timey roadster from the ground up for the last few years.  It’s not done yet, but he just bought a working 1926 Model T and had it shipped down here on a truck.   Tonight we went over to Dan & Lynn’s house for dinner and to see the car, and to hopefully get a ride around the block in a genuine Tin Lizzy.

However, when we walked into his garage, this is what we saw.  He had already put it up on blocks and taken it apart to spiff things up.    So, for now this photo will have to do, and our ride will have to wait a bit.

P.S.  I especially enjoyed the after dinner discussion Monte and Dan were having about a wooden hygrometer (measures humidity in the air) that he had just built.  Dan couldn’t understand why Monte would make one out of wood when he had a perfectly good electronic hygrometer already.  Ironic, eh?  (i.e., reference photo above)  🙂



Happy Halloween!   This the season… to carve the pumpkin, don my jack-o-lantern earrings, and put a bowl of candy by the door.   It was five years ago today that we closed on our old house and officially moved into this house.   I was looking forward to living in a new neighborhood, and visions of hoards of trick-or-treaters danced in my head.

That first year, I was bummed that there was only one knock on the door all night.   Since then I’ve come to realize that the number of trick-or-treaters coming by a given house on Halloween is inversely proportional to the median age of the neighborhood, which, in our case, is about 70 (or thereabouts).  For tonight I bought one small treat bag of peanut M&Ms, just in case.  So, of course we got a bunch of kids — the M&Ms ran out before 8PM.   It seems that over the last five years we’re getting a bit of turnover in the neighborhood, more young families with kiddos.

So, watch out, Halloween 2012 will be BIG!

P.S.  this is my first blog post from my new Mac Book(!)

Happy July 4th!

Drill Team

I was bummed that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Susanne, she left without waking us up this morning…we had gotten in very late last night from Madison.   But, I’m so glad we had a great visit.

Today we headed to Cincinnati again to visit a friend of Monte’s from many years ago, Gwen, and her son Devin.  We met at her house and after a quick chat I found out that Gwen and I may be related (!)   Her dad was born in Ireland and some of her people come from the same town where my dad grew up.  Small world!

After putting away the family trees, we walked down the street to watch the Northside 4th of July parade.  A very funky affair indeed.  This is a shot of the Northside Men’s Drill Team.  Get it?  DRILL team?!  🙂

We had a great walking tour of the Northside neighborhood and got a chance to check out some beautiful restored homes, and a former, old time can factory which is being renovated for apartments.

After a great visit in Cincy we headed back to IN and made the obligatory stop at Skyline for a 3-way.  Then we drove to Gary & Judy’s to visit with them.  As (fantastic) hosts for the reunion they were pretty busy all weekend, and we didn’t really get a chance to spend time with them.   So I’m very glad that we were able to do that tonight.

For now, back to the Courtyard, getting ready to pack everything up for the return flight tomorrow.