Friday, September 26, 2008

"420"...An Explanation

In my post entitled "Welcome Home Continued" I made reference to "420" being spray painted on everything in my back yard. For those of you who don't know drug slang...."420" is street slang for marijuana. If you look it up on Wikipedia there are many definitions as to the origin of this phrase but regardless of where it came from it is now simply slang for anything to do with marijuana. Additionally, April 20, (4/20), is now a marijuana holiday where everyone is supposed to smoke lot's of dope and get as high as possible.

Why Andrew or his friends thought it was a good idea to doodle it all over my back year with silver spray paint is still completely beyond my comprehension. If I find out that this was advertising and anyone was selling marijuana out of my home....there will be no end to my rath.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where's my red pen?

I'm thinking of contacting Pastor Laurie and see if he can't work "The Wonders of Spell Check" in to his next sermon. (see the "Harvest" bumper sticker?)


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Welcome home...continued

There is a major lack of visitor parking at my mobile home park so I parked my little car in front of my house and let Tori park in the car port. The management doesn't like for cars to be parked anywhere other than designated parking places so I gave Andrew the key and told him that if he needed to move the car that was fine but he was not allowed to drive it anywhere outside of the park unless there was a total emergency. (I was thinking about the possibility of Nort having to be rushed to the hospital again.) A foolish move, I know, but I really didn't have a choice. Not counting the emergency trip to Yucca Valley to pick up his friend, (for those of you who are out of state and don't know California geography...Yucca Valley is easily 125 miles, one way, from Huntington Beach.), an emergency trip to Knotts Berry Farm and an emergency trip to an Angels car was virtually untouched.

When I left on my trip I had intended on leaving the rent check with Andrew in an effort to make sure the rent would be paid on time but I decided that I'd rather just pay when I got back. I thought that I was doing the park a favor by paying in cash because that way they wouldn't have to wait for a check to clear but I was quite wrong. The day after putting my money in the slot in the office door I got a call from the management. I got lectured for 5 minutes on the perils of paying my rent in cash. Apparently they only accept checks or money orders and this was covered in the 50 page lease agreement I signed 3 years ago so I should have known. She also had to bring up the fact that I didn't get permission to hang the air conditioner in my front window. (Yeah, I forgot to mention that Andrew took it upon himself to install an air conditioner in my bay window even though when we had discussed this months previous I told him that I didn't want an air conditioner nor did I want to pay the electric bill it would generate. The house gets a little warm sometimes but we live 2,000 yards from the ocean. If he was too hot he just needed to go outside.) (another neighbor showed up out of the blue and offered to remove it for I let him.)

After the manager was satisfied that she had chastised me enough about paying my rent in cash she dove right in to the next item on her agenda....and the conversation went a little bit like this:

Manager: "We just found out that your son has been living with you and he's not on the lease. The way we found out was due to your neighbors reporting loud noises late in to the night and apparently he had an altercation with some of your neighbors. If he's going to stay in your house you need to add him to your lease but the board will have to approve of him first but with a history like his I doubt if the board will allow him to stay here."

Me: (stunned to the point of disbelief) "Uh. He's not my son, he's my nephew. Can you tell me more about the altercation with the neighbors?"

Manager: "Late one night he had a bunch of people outside of your house and they were making too much noise and one of your neighbors asked them to quiet down and your son got in their face and threatened them."

Me:"He's not my son. He's my nephew. How did he threaten them?"

Manager: "I'm leaving for vacation. We are going to have to discuss then when I get back. Bye."

End of phone call.

I wish I could convey the feeling in the pit of my stomach at that moment. Had I spent all of my money to buy my little cottage by the sea only to have it threatened because my idiot nephew just couldn't find enough ways to show me how little he cared about me and my generosity of letting him stay there with me for over a year free of charge? Were they going to have me kicked out because Andrew got in to an altercation with an as of yet no named neighbor? I had an instant vision of having to continue to pay space rent even though I wasn't allowed to live in my home but all the while not able to sell the house because of the damage that I've allowed to be done to the inside,not to mention the mess that was taking place on the outside. This just makes me sick. Everyone I know has been telling me to kick Andrew out for many months previous to this but I couldn't do it because I saw the teeniest spark of hope that he wouldn't screw me when I was doing everything I could in to help him. Could I have been any more wrong?

I called Andrew and asked him if there was anything he needed to tell me and of course he said no. I told him about the conversation with the manager and it didn't take him .02 seconds to insist that the story I heard had gotten way out of hand and there was no altercation and there was no party. And boy howdy...he was mad that he had to go before the board to ask if he could be put on my lease. Why did he had to qualify? He wasn't paying any of the bills? (out of the mouths of babes....)

I prayed and pondered on this for a couple of days and just when I thought that maybe both parties were right...maybe there was a slight altercation and maybe there was a little bit of noise and maybe the neighbors were being a tad hypersensitive..... Then I had a visit from one of my neighbors who was not directly involved in the altercation. He was actually a friend of Andrew's and yet the version of the story he told me appeared to be the one with the most truth. He told me that Andrew had people at the house every night that I was gone and they stayed up all night playing very loud video games. In between video games the guys would go outside and ride their skate boards or sit in their car and smoke and listen to the radio. One night one of Andrew's guests arrived with his car radio blaring and one of my old lady neighbors came out and told him to to turn it down. A verbal exchange took place and then the next day the old lady neighbor had told the rest of the old lady neighbors and they took their story to the manager.

It's been a matter of weeks and I haven't heard anything from the management and Andrew has only been back at the house in order to pack up some of his belongings. I went out to the back yard to see if he had taken all of his stuff out of the shed and discovered that he or one of his friends had spray painted "420" all over any flat junk surface they could find. I find solace in saying that at least it wasn't painted on my house. There is no end to the immaturity this young man possesses, and apparently there is no end to his complete and total disregard for me and my belongings.

Only the shadow knows what's coming next for this weenie.....


Welcome home....

The couple of days before Tori and I left on our trip I did as much as I could to clean the house. It was really just the the dishes, clean the counters, sweep and mop the kitchen and bathroom floors, clean the bathroom sink, tub and toilet...vacuum the carpet, wash the cat prints off of the furniture and lastly I cleaned out 5 cat boxes. The morning before we left as we were waiting for the town car to pick us up Tori fine tuned the cleaning process a little more by trying to clean up Andrews mess in his part of the house.

Knowing that Andrew might not be as diligent at keeping the cat boxes clean or keeping the cat's water bowl full I secretly went to one of my young neighbors, (who used to be madly in love with Andrew), and asked her if she would please, please, please periodically check to make sure that the kitties had water. They have an automatic dry food feeder so I knew they wouldn't starve to death. The bigger kitties know how to drink from the toilet if they need to but the kittens aren't as well versed in the skills of indoor survival. She assured me that she would check in at least once a day and thus I left on my trip feeling secure in the fact that my fur children would be safe and sound in my absence.

When we got home Andrew was outside smoking a cigarette and he greeted me by telling me that all of the adult kitties were on the lamb and had been gone since before we even got on the airplane. I felt the blood drain out of my face and fought the urge to throttle him. I asked him how that happened and why hadn't he gone out and find them and bring them home....

His answer.....(urgh...must resist urge to throttle young nephew)..... "After you guys left John and I went down to the pool and when we were down there Ashleigh tore the screen in the bay window and they all jumped out." I said, "HOW DID ASHLEIGH TEAR THE SCREEN IN THE BAY WINDOW WHEN THE VERY LAST THING I DID BEFORE I GOT IN TO THE TOWN CAR WAS CLOSE THE BAY WINDOW AND TELL YOU TO KEEP IT CLOSED BECAUSE ASHLEIGH HAD BEEN WORKING VERY HARD ON TEARING THE SCREEN AND I DIDN'T WANT HER TO SUCCEED AND THEN BE ABLE TO GIVE EVERYONE THEIR MUCH SOUGHT AFTER FREEDOM?????" His response.."It was hot in here." All I could think of was the possibility of little Nort jumping out of that window and breaking her back or at the very least re-injuring her previous injury. I was very happy to get inside the house and see Nort and her little white sister safe and sound and inside the house. Fortunately they were too scared to jump and they seemed to enjoy their tenure and the only feline residents of the house for 12 days. Believe it or not they did have water in their bowl so apparently my neighbor held up her end of the deal. However none of the cat boxes had been cleaned since I left.

Also inside the house was a dirty, filthy Lorenzo. Andrew said that he came home earlier that morning. Of course he was very upset that he came home and his woman was no where to be seen. His response to this tragedy was to squall his head off non stop until she finally came home. I went outside and went looking for Ashleigh, Elijah and Willow. I had a couple of fleeting sightings of Elijah but he wouldn't go near the house and I couldn't get close enough to him to catch him.

Andrew had his back pack packed and jumped in the truck and went home with his mom. I figured it was because he wanted to escape my wrath over his irresponsibility regarding the cats. I stayed outside looking for the kitties until almost 10 o'clock that night. By then I was so tired I actually couldn't see straight.

Ashleigh sauntered home early the next morning but there was no sign of Elijah or Willow. I put all of the kitties in the bathroom and left my front door wide open with a can of cat food and a bowl of water at the threshold just in case it might entice either one of them to come home. This was all to no avail.

Several days later I heard Elijah squeak. I very carefully opened the door and did everything I could to try to coax him inside. He kept acting like he was afraid of coming in to the house and like he was afraid of me. Finally I did what I saw Drew Barrymore do when she was trying to get E.T. to come out of the shed....I put a few treats in front of the house and then I made a trail of treats that went up the stairs and in to the house. IT WORKED! Elijah was absolutely, disgustingly, dirty. He was covered in grease and oil, cobwebs, stickers, mud and fleas. Millions of fleas. I picked him up and held him and he was so skinny that it just about made me cry. I can't imagine what it was like for him out there for 16 days in the heat of the summer with no direct access to food or water.

I spent the next week combing the mobile home park for Willow and I'm devastated to say that I have never found him. Haven't even seen a glimpse of him. He was a very beautiful solid grey kitty and I have convinced myself that someone took him in and he's living the life of Reilly sitting on a pillow eating greenies out of a crystal dish.

If you are anything like me you would think that failing so miserably at one aspect of house sitting might cause you to try to kick it up a notch in other areas of the job however with Andrew this is just never the case.

In addition to being non-plussed about the kitties being on a walk about he was equally unconcerned with the condition of the house. It was evident that he had smoked inside the house. (No wonder the kitties left) I can't decide which was a bigger betrayal...letting the cats roam free or smoking in my house. I am adamantly opposed to either activity and anyone who knows me knows this. I have no idea what else went on inside my house during my absence but my kitchen and bathroom looked as though they had been used by an army of bachelors. How that much filth can accumulate in 12 days is beyond me. Every dish I owned was dirty and there was cereal and Top Ramen congealing nicely in the sink. The stove was covered in splattered grease and red candle wax. I asked why there was candle wax on my stove and I was told that the candle got knocked over and subsequently the pilot light caused the candle to melt and drip. When they, (apparently Andrew's friend John stayed there the entire time I was gone), discovered the drip Andrew told John to clean it up. For reasons only known to God...John attempted to clean up the wax with my carpet cleaning brush. The end result was wax smeared all over the top of the stove and red candle wax embedded in my carpet brush.

When I washed the dishes I discovered that all of my tumblers were missing. When I gathered laundry I discovered that all of my towels were missing. When I attempted to have a beer I discovered that all of my beer was missing. When I changed my mind and decided to have a diet coke and vanilla vodka....I discovered that someone was too stupid to know that vodka kept in the freezer will not freeze but when you drink the entire full bottle of vodka and replace the contents with water and put it back in the freezer...the water will freeze.

It was becoming more and more apparent that a party, (parties?) had taken place when I was gone. Unfortunately it would take a few more days and a call from the park manager before I would find out the extent of the fallout of me being foolish enough to trust Andrew with my house for 12 days.....


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finishing up our London trip...

In Windsor:

Tori and I were in what we thought was a breeze way/alley leading from one street to another but lo and behold it was actually the shortest street in Great Britain.

These pillars are in front of a hall that hosted some portion of Charles and Camilla wedding celebration. Our tour guide told us that when the builders built this structure the 4 pillars in the middle were not included. The builders told the architect that the outer pillars were not strong enough to support the building and they demanded that the 4 extra interior pillars be included. He was confident that the building was quite sound but he had no choice other than to have them this is what he did:

The pillars are 4 inches beneath the roof. They are not supporting the building and they've been this way for over 100 years.

Tori and I decided to feed the beautiful, peaceful swans...La la la...demure, quiet swans just beautifully swimming along the River la la. Quiet...relaxing...sigh... Don't let their facade fool you. As soon as they saw that we had food they all came swimming toward us and then walked out of the water on their freakishly large swim fin looking webbed feet. Tori put some food in her hand and lowered it down toward their mouth level. She was very lucky that she didn't come back with a bloody stump! Those swans were very aggressive and not at all gentle. I thought she was being a total baby about it so I decided that it wouldn't be all that bad and I gave it a try.. This just in: She wasn't being a baby and she didn't warn me sincerely enough about how hard they bite. We wound up throwing all of the food in at once and letting them just have at it. And, oh yeah, they were very stinky, too.

On The Way to/In/On The Way Back To Wales:
At the train station in London waiting to catch the train to Wales...

This vending machine at the train station in London took our money so Tori took out her frustrations by giving it a light little tap with her foot. Then she took my nail file and got her money back. She also got a few extra coins for her pain and suffering.

When we arrived in Wales Tori and I knew we were in our Mother Land. There were 4 thrift shops in a row right next to the train station. These shops were spotless. The clothes were all washed an ironed and everything in the store was in perfect condition. The prices reflect this upgrade but it sure made it nice to shop in a thrift store and not have my allergies go nutty koo-koo.

This is a multi-tiered flower basket on the main drag in Cardiff, Wales. I was on the moving tour bus when I took this picture so it's a tad blurry. These were lining the street and it was very pretty.

Me at the Hard Rock drinking diet Coke and B52's. Lunch of champions!
(Kidding. I had a veggie burger before I drank my B52.)

This is me and Jackson Browne's gold album for "The Pretender". (It's the best record ever made and all of you should run out and buy it and listen to it 100 times. Then we can all get together and have a sing along. C'mon! It will be fun! )

Here I am with one of Todd Rundgren's guitars at the Hard Rock Cafe. I touched it hoping some of his musical dna would rub off on me but alas I'm no more musically talented than I was before I touched it.

We wanted a picture of something that would actually prove we were in Wales and this dragon painted on the front of a thrift store was as good as it got. The lower spelling is "Cardiff" in Welsh. I didn't hear one person speaking Welsh. Not one.

This was a private residence in Wales. It looked more like a mini castle.

We were in the village that boasts the longest name in the world:

It took 3 shots in order to fit the entire name on a page.

Tori and I ate lunch at a sidewalk bistro and watched the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Or should I say I ate lunch. I had a very yummy grilled cheese sandwich. Tori was pretty much on a hunger strike during our whole trip.

On the way back to London from Cardiff I had grown weary of the drunken ramblings coming from the group of "youts" in the back of the train. The first couple of time one of them approached our neighbors and asked if they could buy a cigarette off of them was mildly amusing...but by the 4th time it was just annoying. (His apology had everyone in stitches but I think his verbiage caught we Americans by surprise and we were laughing the hardest. Hint...he used a word to describe himself that is sort of like the word "twit" but with a different vowel.)

Bored on the train from Wales back to London. (When you photograph yourself from this angle no one can see your double chin!)

Our Last Few Days In London....

We took a cruise down the Thames. We weren't able to sit next to each other but we were happy to have actually gotten to sit down once we got up to the top deck. I got to sit with the group of kids who's goal in life was to do their life long allotted talking during the course of the cruise. They didn't shut up for even .02 seconds so I didn't get to hear any of the narration.

These next few pictures were all taken in the grass in the yard of Westminster Abbey.
(Editing will dispose of double chins, too!)

Here Tori has stabbed herself with a plastic sword and is in the middle of an apparently painful death.

How many pictures can we take while laying next to the Abbey? (see, no double chin!)

Can you see the flames of searing pain shooting out of our swollen feet? Nice cankles, huh?

Tower of London:

This is one of the very few original walls built at the Tower of London. The black cage behind the wall is where the 8 ravens live.

One of the 8 ravens. You can't tell in these pictures but these birds are HUGE.

We got to watch 2 knights fight over the hand of a lady. They used several different weapons that would do great harm to anyone not wearing a suit of armor. I felt sorry for these guys...this was a very hot and really humid day so they had to be baking in those outfits.

We were way up inside one of the prisons at the Tower of London and when you combine a structure that is several hundred years old, that has no windows, with millions of visitors who have no regard for personal hygiene the stench in unbearable.

The hallways were very narrow because people were much smaller back in those days. This stairwell was so narrow Tori and I had to turn sideways to maneuver it.

This is one of the gargoyles adorning the vault that contains the crown jewels. (Even though we had to go through a huge rigmarole in order to get inside the building, (security measures and such)...I don't believe that we were seeing the actual crown jewels. There was only one guard type person in the room with the 1,000's of people who walk through there on an hourly basis. He'd was unarmed and I'm sure would have been no match for anyone who really wanted to steal those bazillion dollars worth of gems encased on those many crowns.)

I recently learned that gargoyles were designed on the whim of the stone cutter. That is why not all of them are scary. This one was kind of scary but I think it looks more handicapped than foreboding.

Later that night...

Tori and IMOM drank warm beer at a local pub. I had a Bloody Mary. It resembled a tomato juice shake. It was very thick. And had the requisite 1 ice cube. It took the bar tender about 10 minutes to make it. And I am not exaggerating. I finally had to go up to the bar to ask IMOM what was taking so long....apparently the bar tender had to look it up in the bar book and was still flummoxed after he found the recipe.

The local pub.

After our 10 days of fun and frolic we had to pack our bags and say goodbye to Europe. Of course we didn't start packing until late the night before we were supposed to leave and it was then that we found out that we had purchased so many souvenirs that there was no way we were going to fit them in our luggage. Surprisingly we couldn't find an all night luggage store so we had to take one of IMOM's suitcases. Even after we added the 3rd suitcase we were still cutting it close. We decided to wear as many clothes as we could without looking like sherpas and we put a lot of stuff in our carry on bags.

Our flights home were smooth and uneventful. We watched our private tellys and ate all the food that was offered to us and of course we slept as much as we could.

I hate when vacations are over....but especially when I come home to find out that 4 of my 6 kitties have been on the lamb since the DAY THAT I LEFT.

Tomorrow's post will detail the chaos I found upon my arrival to my lovely abode.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

The next few days in England..

After our big day of shopping we went to see "Wicked". Here is a poor picture of the curtain that was down before the play started. It is a map of Oz. It had cute little green sparkle lights showing points of interest but the lights didn't show up in my photograph. We had 4th row seats for the play and it was as though they were putting the show on just for us. I've never had such nice seats for a play and it really changed my perspective of how I will see plays from now on! Tori and I both loved "Wicked" and unfortunately IMOM fell asleep about 3/4 of the way in to it.

The next morning, with no plans made in advance, truly flying by the seat of our pants...we went to the train station and got 2 round trip tickets to Windsor. It was a very nice train ride that lasted about 2 hours from London.

Here is a picture of Queen Victoria standing in front of the Windsor Castle.

Just over her right shoulder is a beautiful chapel. Tori and I went to an afternoon service in there. It was open to the public however there were only about 10 people in attendance including us. It was a very nice service and I felt very special getting to attend a church service in a castle.

This is a shot of the castle from the left side... The castle was very beautiful. There were flowers and trees and vines growing all over the place. (What used to be the moat is now a beautiful rose garden.) Inside the castle we got to see many beautiful works of art and centuries old furnishings.

After our castle tour and church service we took a ride on the double decker red tour bus and managed to cross the Seine several more times.

We saw beautiful fields of golden grass, small estates and beautiful forests.

We stopped off to meet up with our dates, Harry & William, only to discover that they both moved away from these parts long ago...

I took some time out to contemplate being stood up by the boys and rested for a while in this beautiful green English meadow that I later learned was a P.E. field for Eaton College.

After our castle tour and bus tour we ambled down a side street and discovered that our ladies in waiting were waiting for us with a large throne and a gaggle of crowns from which to that we could have our picture taken. (You can't really see that Tori is wearing a crown and I'm wearing a tiara.)

Walking down the side street Tori discovered a kitty. We both stopped to play with it and it was very cathartic and soothing. I really missed my kitties at home and I'm sure Tori missed her kitty, Anna.

We found a place to eat that had a nice crowd of people dining on the cobblestone walk way. We were wary of stopping anywhere that was empty because that never speaks well of the food. At first we were saddened that there weren't any places to sit out side so we could dine al fresco...but as soon as we got inside and placed our order...the skies opened up and it poured for about 15 minutes.

That's me peeking out of the window.

Mmmmm. Pesto & garlic bread....

This was a beautiful little side street in down town Windsor.

The next day we decided to walk around London again. We were hoping to go in to Westminster Abbey but after finding out they charged to get in we decided not to participate. I just found something un-nerving about having to pay to get in to see a church that is still functioning as a church. Yes, it's old and famous but it just didn't seem right to me. So we took off walking.

This is Tori standing in the rain with Big Ben coming out of her head.

We walked to Buckingham Palace and joined the 1,000 other people to watch the changing of the guard.

After waiting for over an hour we figured that there was not going to be a ceremony that day. We later found out that if there is any threat of inclimate weather they will not perform the changing of the guard ceremony.

We ran in to this guy and asked him what he was guarding but he was no help at all. Since Tori had been involved in drum corps before this whippersnapper was born she challenged him to a "drill down".

She won. He left.

Since the guards were no help in telling us what "Clarence House" was I found someone more helpful. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of him, but a very nice Bobby told us that this confined neighborhood was where the Queen Mum lived and it is also where Prince William and Prince Harry live when they are in England. This brick building is their home: (I took this picture so that when Rebek marries Prince William, Tori will know where she has to go to visit her royal grand child.)

That's all for today. Monday's post will cover our visit to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge and our trip to Wales....