Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'd like to introduce, Mrs B

The ad read:
Selling this low mileage car because 90 year old original owner gave up driving. Car has been stored for last few years and is in very good overall condition with lots of new and recent parts such as radiator and overflow tank, A/C compressor, battery, shocks, window seals, rebuilt transmission, brakes and calipers etc. Have bills. Car has received a lot of TLC to prepare for sale. Everything works. Looks and runs great. Very clean non- smoker interior. Like new carpets. Leather and paint looks good. Car has been repainted once. Good tires, extra carpets that also look like new, owners manual and original tool kit. Like new , never used original factory soft top. Hardtop with new window seals. Have current smog certificate and "Auto Check" report. No accidents. License paid till November. Your wife, trophy wife or girlfriend would look very good in this stylish car which will only appreciate in the future.
A year ago, the lease on our Volvo convertible was up and we knew we didn't want to keep it. Lyle said, "What car do you want to get?" I answered, "I don' t like any of the cars out there." and after numerous "discussions" we decided to let the Volvo go, and I would get a bike. We discussed I could use the bike for near trips, the bus for far trips and anything more than that we would rent a car. In the long run we would save a fair bit of money from no car payments, no gas, no insurance, etc. I thought the winter might be bad for bike riding in the rain (I never did, I always took the bus) and I hadn't planned on how awful it would be to ride my bike when it was 100º, or to try and ride my bike when there was ash falling from nearish forest fire (I called a cab that day).
It's been a year, and recently my life has gotten more full with work and I need a car more often. We looked at new BMW's, new Mercedes and new Jaguar convertibles. Too much money, not enough warranty and I didn't even fit inside one of them (the Jaguar is GORGEOUS but TINY inside.) So no deal was made.
Then I had a brilliant plan. We decided to get a used Mercedes convertible, just like the ones Lyle and I had lusted after all these years. We called it the two year plan. It only has to last two years and then we can get a new car, we told ourselves. (this is no longer a "two year" car. I want to keep it forever.)

We started looking about a month ago and we've driven a couple 560SL's and they really did feel like older used cars. But still pretty. Then we found "Mrs B". With only 67,000 miles on her she is like new. Drives amazing and everything inside and out shows virtually no wear and tear.

Lyle contacted the seller and we made an appointment to test drive the car last week.
The personalized plates read "Mrs B" and now that she lives with us, and those plates are gone, we've agreed that will still be her name.

We learned that Mr. B was a world War 2 pilot. They bought the car new in 1986. Mrs B would have been 65. The car was referred to as their "Sunday car" and they never drove it without the hardtop on. The soft top has never been used. Two years ago, Mrs B gave up driving and this year asked her friends to please sell the car for her.

It even has the original tool kit in the trunk.And here is just a little history of the car line itself:
The Mercedes-Benz 560SL was launched in 1985 and available as a convertible coupe. It was a luxury sports car that had a Type 107 bodyshell that had made its appearance in 1970 on the 350SL. The 560 SL was created for the American market, with its overhead-camshaft V8 engine that produced an astounding 277 horsepower. Zero-to-sixty was achieved in just eight seconds and top speed was in the neighborhood of 136 mph.

For 1986, the car carried a sticker price of under fifty-thousand, at $48,200. It was a sporty, luxurious car with numerous standard equipment and produced by a marque that was known for its racing pedigree and commitment to style, performance, and refinement.

In 2006, a 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SL Convertible was offered for sale at the Bonhams & Butterfields auction held in Carmel, California where it was estimated to sell between $15,000 - $20,000. It has been driven a total of 45,279 miles since new. It has a well preserved factory hardtop, original first aid kit, owner's wallet, handbook and more. At auction, the car did find a buyer. The car was sold for $21,060.
Let me just say, we got a bargain and we are delighted to welcome Mrs B to her new home!

Friday, July 30, 2010

When one door finally closes...

Tear open the wall!

As the master bedroom renovations near completion, the guest room we had been living in, gets torn apart. The water leak that had damaged the master bedroom had also damaged two walls in the Tiffany guest room.

Since that will be completed by the weekend, we decided, what the hell, let's rip the deck off the back of the house and lower it 2 feet.

So that's what's happening over here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Curtains Up!

I don't want to get my hopes up too soon, but... We may be able to move our furniture back into the bedroom this weekend. The curtains are already up!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summertime, and the eating is easy...

Last night for dinner I made salmon, fresh tomatoes and homemade coleslaw. So colorful and flavorful.

Then Lyle made a strawberry and peach crisp.

Cooper was quite rightful to turn on the waterworks.

Don't ask why, I got inspired for coleslaw from the Lucques cookbook:

In a saucepan cook 1/2 c red wine vinegar, reducing it by half. Take off heat, cool 5 minutes, then add 2 tsp honey and dissolve in.

In a large bowl toss 1/2 head red cabbage, 1/2 head green cabbage and 1/2 a red onion all thinly sliced. Also add one carrot grated. (let's be honest, who buys a half head of cabbage? This is when I decided to double my recipe.)

Pour honey vinegar mixture over cabbage onion mixture, toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside at least 15 minutes.

In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup of mayo, 2 tbsp minced chives, 1/4 chopped parsley.
(oh yeah, and remember I was doubling).

Toss it all together, more salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe modifications: I would cut the cabbage head into quarters before thinly slicing. These pieces were big and messy. I would cut the onion smaller as well. Lyle suggests placing the onion in the juice of half a lemon on it's own before adding it to the mixture. He says that will take some of the "sting" out. I suggest adding the other half of the lemon juice into the mayo mixture. It gives it some tangy flavor.

It's really good, and I'm NOT a slaw person!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Take two and call me in the morning

Recently our doctor checked our cholesterol and found it to be "upper mid range" not high, per se, but not as low as he would like it to be. He prescribed a cholesterol lowering medication for both of us and I put the pills right between the coffee maker and the toaster. The irony being that Lyle took his cholesterol lowering pill every morning with two shots of espresso and a shot of heavy cream. While I took mine with coffee made with 1% milk, but two pieces of toast (whole grain, thank you Oprah) that were heavily buttered. Where does all that pesky bad cholesterol come from anyway?

We were diligent on the pills and at about three weeks in, Lyle voiced numerous complaints about being achy, lethargic and other common gripes. I had been complaining of lower back pain (which I never have) but had assumed I was just "sleeping wrong".

So Lyle took to the miracle of the Internet and began reading up on the possible side-effects of the pills we had been given. "That's it!" he cried out, "it's these damn pills. I'm not taking another one!"

I said fine. But then you have to change the way you are eating. Oatmeal is a good natural food source that has shown to lower cholesterol. Lyle actually enjoys having oatmeal in the morning and he agreed to start doing that again. (But hasn't. "Ahem.")

However I, can't stand oatmeal Its disgusting.

So I took to the miracle of the Internet to see what other food could lower my cholesterol. I found many sites that listed Oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, and dark chocolate. I had a brilliant plan.

I am always ready to eat a cookie. Why not make a cookie that is actually GOOD for me?

I got out my Betty Crocker cookie book, snapped a pic of the recipe and headed to the store.
I doubled the cinnamon, added a liberal dose of flaxseed, dropped the walnuts and currants (too Christmas-y for me) and then added dark real chocolate chips.
Et Voilá! I have 4 dozen cookies for my health. Who can say no to being healthy when it has chocolate involved? I HAVE to eat them! I am a genius.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What's Opera Doc?

Tonight we saw the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl featuring the music of Bugs Bunny.

So close and yet so far.

In the never ending sage of the back of the house renovations, the plot continues.

After having no workers for over a week, we've had a few partial days with partial progress. Since saber-rattling over the disappearance of tools and other items from our home, the items in question have returned. "They were here on the shelf in the closet the whole time." our landlady was told. Yes, the closet that we went though over and over again. The tools that now have different bits on the end that we have never owned. Those tools, they were just sitting there in plain sight, by no one.

Our trouble is, we are motivated people who want things done to a certain level. The level that we would hold ourselves to. The landlady does not share that commitment and tends to hire whoever is cheapest.

The tools were "discovered" over the weekend when we weren't home. On Monday Lyle and I went over the bathroom, bedroom and closet with a fine tooth comb looking for every detail that needed to be completed. The brand new tile already has paint dripped on it. The closet floor has paint dripped on it. The bathroom wall has not been sanded down before painting... details, details, details.

We made an extensive list for all three portions of this project and Lyle emailed them to the landlady. She called and said that the workers would be there Tuesday morning before Lyle went to work to go over everything with him. Then she called back to say it would just be one worker. Then she called back to say it would Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

This is when Lyle told her to just FIRE THEM and we would finish it ourselves. If we needed help, we would hire people we were comfortable with and we would supervise them and they would answer to us. Lyle wrote to her, "They take no pride in their work. They are messy. They don't show up. Oh, and they STOLE FROM US."

Somehow the landlady convinced Lyle to give them two more days of working on the list he made for them. After that, whatever wasn't done she would let us do.

Lyle came home today to find the landlady painting out the trim around the doors. Without a drop cloth. Dripping paint on the new hardwood floors. She told him she was just trying to help.

I think you can see where all these problems start from.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Retail Therapy

So everyone remembers when we all got together and went to Milan for the Spring 2010 Runway shows, right? We all hopped that chartered plane and had such a good time. Carolyn, you may not remember all of it, you were severely medicated for the plane ride. Same for you Michael. Oh and David, you're always severely medicated. Okay, so none of you probably remember it but I do. It's as if it were yesterday when I was sitting front row at the Gucci show...

Or maybe I was just reviewing the show via slide show on my computer? Well, in any case I fell in love with the Gucci Spring 2010 collection.

As is my habit, I was at the mall a few months later and I was visiting (okay, stalking) some pricey items at Gucci Beverly Center, when I turned around and there it was. High on a shelf, but still within reach, lit beyond what should be legal in retail: the world's most amazingly gorgeous blue duffel bag.

I made a zig-zag line through the store so as to not alert security and casually sidled up to the shelf where I reached up and put my hands on it. Electricity flowed through my veins.

Now I am no fool. I know exactly which store I was in and that this bag was hand crafted, rare and was going to be "serious" money. In fact, so sure of its costliness, I didn't even remove it from the shelf. I caressed it, and I left it. The bag and I were now officially dating.

I came home and reviewed my runway snaps. Yes, there it was. The Julia Roberts of Gucci bags, and I was the Hugh Grant of runway watching in my own personal movie, "Not-a-chance of Getting-it Gate."

So I placed a photo of it into my iPhone and carried it with me wherever I went. "See this bag?" I'd say to random strangers (as my friends and loved ones were already sick of hearing about it), "It's Gucci. It's gorgeous. And I'm stalking it."
The photo that has lived in my phone.

Two weeks later, I took Lyle to the mall to show him what our adopted child would look like if I had my way... the bag was GONE.

Lyle inquired about how much would the bag have been if it had actually been in the store. They told us the price and I silently gasped inside (on my face it would have been a very wide eyed blink) and Lyle said, "thanks," and we left the store. I said to Lyle, "WOW. I guess I was right about not being able to afford that bag." And Lyle said very matter of fact, "You can afford that bag. You have that much money in the bank. If that's what you want to do with your money." I muttered something about starving children and someday buying a car or a house and Lyle said, "If that's what you want to do with your money, you can do that too. But if you really WANT that bag, you CAN afford it."

The next day we were at the Gucci flagship store in Beverly Hills (pre-sale, thank you very much) and I hemmed and hawed with the salesperson until Lyle finally took my phone and showed the man what I searching for.

"Oh yes, we had that. But we sold it."
Will you be getting more in? I asked hopefully.
"We did get a refill, but we won't get any more."
How can you be so sure?
"Because it was a runway item and we normally only get one. I was surprised when we got a refill."
Would other stores have one left?
"No. They only make between 25 to 40 of those items. They'll be certain to be gone by now."

We ended our conversation with he'd keep his eyes open if he saw or heard of one via the computer stocking system but that I shouldn't get my hopes up.

We left the store and I said to Lyle, "Well, I guess I guess I dodged a bullet on that bag. Now I don't even have to consider buying it versus feeding starving children." And Lyle said very matter of fact, "Next time you see something you really want that badly, remember just to get it. It won't be there later. You work hard for your money and you can do whatever you want with it." And then I muttered something along the lines of, "well, that street doesn't go both ways, you better save your money for a house or a car or something..." and luckily he didn't really hear me.

While at that Gucci pre-sale I did purchase a pair of white shorts and since it was "pre-sale" I couldn't pick them up until the actual sale day broke. A week and half later I picked up my new white shorts and realized that my $9 flip flops didn't really create the look I was going for with my new pricey Gucci white shorts and I needed some nicer white shoes or some such to go with these shorts.

Since I don't have a car (I ride my bike or take the bus, so I can buy more shoes) I went looking on the Internet. I knew Sak's Fifth Avenue was having a sale because, well, I'm just that gay. I know things. There I found the most perfect white shoes. Made by... wait for it... Gucci! I sent Lyle off a photo to him on his phone telling him of my plans to possess them. A text message came back "Sounds good. I wanted those shoes. You're lucky they aren't available in my size!"

Then on a whim, I left the sale section and went to the regular priced Gucci section online at Sak's. This is how it begins, the hunt for the perfect item, find it at regular price then wait for it to go on sale. But today was to be different. Sitting there on the Sak's Gucci page on the Internet, just as blithely as you like, there IT was...

MY BEAUTIFUL BLUE BAG.

I let out an audible gasp that woke up the dogs behind me. Then I sent Lyle a picture text message, "MY BAG!!!"

And I received the reply, "We have that much money in the bank."

Then I sat here staring at the page on the Internet.

I kept saying inside my head, "It's too much. Too much to spend on myself. I shouldn't spend that kind of money on myself when we have so many other things we need to take care of." And then it came to me. I was telling myself I didn't deserve a bag that nice.

I thought, "Lyle thinks I deserve this. Why don't I?" "WHY DON'T I !?!" What inside tells me that I am not good enough, worth enough or deserving of an unbelievable pricey work of hand crafted cobalt blue mobile art?!

I signed up to be on the Saks.com mailing list and was immediately given a 10% off coupon. Armed with my coupon and a deep DEEP breath, I made my purchase!

Then I freaked out and re-read the return policy (just in case).

The shoes and bag arrived a week later.
They had to sit and acclimate themselves to their new environment, like when you add goldfish to the pond.

"Delivery from Saks!" I texted Lyle. Then I burst into tears and left both boxes sitting unopened on the dining room table. I went and had a nap. When I woke up I opened the smaller box with the white shoes inside. They were prettier than online and have the most amazing grey/silver polished sole on the bottom.
I felt guilty the first time I put them on and placed my foot on the ground. Not so guilty that I took them off, but still... they're that pretty.

Then I waited for Lyle to come home to open the box with the bag inside.

We unpacked it together and marveled at the craftsmanship and detail. The inside is lined with brown suede that is unbelievably soft. This photo doesn't do it any real justice.We caressed it, fondled it and then I placed it back inside it's protective fabric bag. I placed it high up on a shelf so no dog could accidentally find it and do it any harm.

Lyle looked me over and said, "I can't believe you just spent that amount of money on a purse."

I turned to Lyle, beaming and said, "We need to plan a trip to Paris for this bag!"

My apologies


Starting today I have enacted the "word verification" option for all comments. I don't like them and had promised myself I would never use them (what the heck is an "uvama" anyway?).

The Asian spambots of commenting have won. They have worn me down. At first it was one or two spam comments happening on older posts (as if I wouldn't notice) so I turned on comment moderation that anything over 30 days would require approval by me. Then they came closer. I get at least one a day (+iron) and I'm tired of it.

I apologize. Do weeds grow where no one tends the garden? Is this because I've not been blogging enough?

Now you will be prompted to read AND write something extra if you kindly choose to comment. And I will need to get to work to keep this space worth all the extra effort.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Work in progress

I don't have the energy to post photos or even turn on my computer to write, so I'm blogging from my phone.

The construction at the back of the house moves on, and on, and on...

The tiles are all in the bathroom. Shower stall and floor. The bedroom has hardwood floor down and the walls are painted. Sounds promising, doesn't it?

There was a break where no one would return our calls and tools that belong to us and were put away in our garage went missing. Along with a pricey shower head. After letting everyone know that we would be forced claim this all on our insurance and that they would need a police report (that would include their names and phone numbers...), everything magically turned up. "See, it was just sitting in the closet the whole time!"

Yes, the closet, where I examined each shelf and found nothing. Of course that's where it was this whole time.

So there is still all the detail work to be completed. As in, you need to repaint the trim where you painted over it. You need to clean the paint off the hardwood floor where you spilled it. You need to install the light fixture over again, this time correctly. If these guys are charging by the hour, they'll soon be millionaires.

So, it goes on. But not the way I'd like it to.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gelato!

It always tastes better when it's 110&lsqauo; outside.