Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Railings Here!

This morning we got up and left for work, and our new stairs had no railings. In the afternoon, we came home and they had magically appeared!

The railings were installed by Sal Lombardo of Iron Work Expo & Design Center. Sal is an Italian immigrant. We love his accent. He says things like "turn-a-pike-a". But better yet, he does good work.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Some Assembly Required

Yep, so anyway the Sleep Number people were having a factory outlet sale, and that's why we decided to get our new bed at this time. We probably saved about $400 over what we would have paid for the same model if we purchased it through the store.

We could have paid a guy $150 or something like that to deliver and put the bed together for us, but we said nah to that. So today, after I finished delivering books to old folks, I went to work assembling the bed. First to you have to put the foundation together:

Those are the support beams - they are all just made out of very heavy duty plastic. Once the support beams are together, you attach the legs and put the panels on top:
Next you lay the mattress flat and remove the top. You place long foam blocks all around the outer edge, and then lay the air chambers inside, and attach the air chambers to the air pump:

That zig zaggy piece of foam laying on top of the air chambers is the piece you stuff between the two air chambers once they are inflated. While I was waiting for the air chambers to inflate, look who I found, making herself comfy in the folded up mattress top:

One chamber filled...

2 chambers filled...

After the chambers are full, you put a big piece of foam on top, and then zip on the mattress top and make the bed!

Yay! Now we just need to get a nice bed-skirt. And boy will Kenji be surprised when he gets home and sees a new bed after being away for a week.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Bed

Last week, we ordered a king size bed. UPS dropped it off at our house today.

A normal king size bed would never fit up the stairs to the second floor in our house. So that's why we got a bed that comes in a bunch of smaller boxes. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Bright Idea

I made a letterbox today. I'm going to plant it in West Orange somewhere because that's where Thomas Edison lived. Also, West Orange has all those light bulbs everywhere all over town.

The name of my box is A Bright Idea. Instead of a log book, I made a log box. It's just a little box that I filled with a stack of little square pieces of card stock. I carved the stamp from an old eraser, and included a yellow ink pad and one of the pens that Kenji's mom decorated. Now I just have to figure out where to hide it!

No More Scary Laptop Bag

I posted this just for Kenji, since he's out of town. Musubi has been scared of this bag for some reason. She always approaches it very gingerly and then runs away. Well I guess she's not scared of it anymore.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pancake Adventure

Kenji and I went on a breakfast adventure this morning to Ridgewood, NJ. Destination: Country Pancake House. Our friend Joe told me about this place a few months ago - he said that they had like fifty different kinds of pancakes, and if you want, you can get them as large as a pizza!

Well, I didn't want a pancake as large as a pizza. The other option is to get 4 medium sized pancakes, which is also way too much food for me. Especially considering that your meal starts off with complimentary cornbread, some plain, some with chocolate chips. The menu has a remarkable list of 189 different pancakes, waffles and French toast... and that's just the breakfast menu!

Kenji ordered the "Carpet Baggers" pancakes, which contained ham, bacon and cheese. He says they weren't as good as he thought they would be, and that next time he's going to get the Super Pancakes. Super Pancakes have something like nine different types of grain in them. They must scrub your insides pretty good!

Because I knew an order of pancakes would be way too much food for me, I decided to get a waffle instead - a sweet potato waffle. This is not something I would ever have thought to make myself, but it was really yummy. It complimented the drink I ordered, which I also would never think to make myself - pear and carrot juice - a juice that's both bright orange AND yummy!

The Snake

After pigging out at the pancake house, Kenji and I went to Franklin Lakes to Lorrimier Sanctuary, where "jerseyhikers" recently hid The Snake.

The box was hidden on July 2, 2007, so I was hoping maybe we would be the first finders, but we were not.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tulip Bartex is Here!

As I mentioned in my Tulip Bartex post, we have been planning to repair our broken sidewalk and replace our wooden steps in the front of our house with brick and limestone. We also had the contractors replace the front walkway which was all cracked and crummy looking. Because of heavy rains on Wednesday evening, our chosen contractor had to rearrange some of his jobs, and was able to start work on ours on Thursday morning.

The contractor we used was Essex & Morris Contracting Company, owned and operated by John Trezza. We think they might be on the pricey side, but it's hard for us to tell what the going rate is for this kind of job in our region. Of the four contractors that agreed to even come out to give us an estimate, only two showed up. Of those two, Essex & Morris was the only one to actually get back to us with a quote. I have to say we are very pleased with the work done by John and his crew. If you live in Essex or Morris County in New Jersey and you need some paving or masonry work done, give John a call.


Here's what our sidewalk and front steps used to look like:

Above is the section of sidewalk about which we received a citation from the town.

The wooden steps weren't in bad shape - the paint was coming off but they were otherwise in good condition. However, they were very slippery in the wintertime. The concrete walk and stairs were pretty junky though.


The guys arrived bright and early at 6:30 a.m., and it was not very long before they had removed our broken sidewalk:

And not too much later, they have it filled with gravel, to be covered with concrete...

While some of the guys ripped up the side walk, others ripped out steps off and began destroying the old concrete foundation...

... the bits of which they put in here. I hope our neighbors don't hate us too much now because this part of the job was extra noisy!

By the end of the first day, the sidewalk was completed, and the stairs were on their way:

What impressed me most was the thoughtfulness the crew demonstrated by finding a safe perch for our little army guy, where he can continue to stand guard and protect us from bad guys. I thought for sure little army guy was lost when I realized we had forgotten to take him off the old steps before the contractors showed up, but here he is!

Life Saver Saved My Life!

Yesterday was a very Friday the 13th-ish day. Conveniently, it actually was Friday the 13th.

As you know from my previous posts, Friday began with a man-hunt in our back yard. Then in the evening, a NJ Transit train got stuck in the tunnel so Tiffany had a hard time getting home from work in NYC. To make things easier, Kenji and I went to pick her up at Newark Penn Station, and then Kenji dropped us off at Tiff's house so that he could go to the book store while Tiff and I went to the dance.

At least that's what the plan was supposed to be. When it came to leaving for the dance, Tiffany's car, the one she's only owned for two weeks, was dead!

But the night was not lost - the thrid member of the shoe-changer triangle, Joe, was having none of this Tiffany-and-Marsha-aren't-going-to-the-dance business. He drove all the way back home from the dance to pick us up and take us there. That's me in the back of Joe's convertible, wearing his hat so that my hair would only be a near-complete disaster instead of a complete disaster.

When we got there, we paid our $15 at the door, and I took a Life Saver from the candy dish and began to suck on it while I changed my shoes. I started off with a nice dance with Tiff. Then I danced with my favorite lead in NJ, Tall Mike (we have qualifier nick names for all the Mikes to make it easier to tell which Mike we are referring to). As usual, dancing with Tall Mike was super-fun. About 3/4 of the way through the song, he did an aerial (I think it's called a Side Car), which was so much fun that I couldn't help but laugh. But flying around laughing with a Life Saver in my mouth was not really a good idea, as the Life Saver then got stuck in my throat!

Good thing it was a Life Saver though, because I think the little hole is what made it so that I could still breathe. Well, actually I think the Life Saver got stuck in the right pipe... so maybe I would have been able to breathe anyway even if it didn't have a hole in it. Nonetheless, having the little bugger stuck in my throat was very uncomfortable. Gretchen insisted I drink some hot water to help melt the Life Saver and also to help my throat expand. It was a good idea because after only a few sips I could feel the Life Saver flip around and then continue on its way down into my tummy. :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Update to the Update

Ok, so we still don't really have any details, but today we have heard that it was only two guys that the police were searching for last night, and apparently neither of them were caught. The End.

The Search Continues

I've lived in neighborhoods before where people were shot dead on the street right in front of my apartment, but this is the first time there's ever been a real live manhunt right in my back yard. Of course the picture here is of the street out front (and there's our lonely little bag of garbage on the side of the road, waiting to be picked up first thing in the morning).

The helicopter has run low on fuel just a few moments ago, so it's quieted down. However, the search continues. And here I am, blogging. What else am I going to do? Sleep?? Yeah, right...

UPDATE: The search has been called off. I guess there was a car-full of guys on foot who were being chased. One of them has been caught. I guess we'll sleep with one eye open tonight.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Police Cars

Well, the man-hunt continues apparently. I'm looking outside our upstairs bathroom window and watching the shadow of our giant oak tree circle around in the chopper's spotlight. Police cars have been driving up and down our street at varying speeds, sometimes with lights flashing and sirens blaring, but mostly in a more stealthy manner. A female police officer was patrolling our street on foot for a short time, but seems to have moved on. I see neighbors peering out their windows trying to see anything that's going on.

And I thought the most exciting thing of the day was the contractors showing up to destroy and rebuild our sidewalk and front steps...


For the last ten minutes there has been a helicopter circling over our neighborhood shining a spotlight. I wonder who they are looking for. Police scanner says something about a car-jacking. The news says something about a search going on and a deadly shooting and car-jacking in the Bronx. But it doesn't sound like the two are related. Hmmm...

In case you are wondering, yes, that's what a helicopter using a spotlight in the dark of night looks like taken with a five-year-old Minolta DiMage X digital camera. :)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Just Another Errand

In spite of today's heat, this morning I decided to have a little fun while I was out running errands. In between mailing some packages at the post office, dropping off books to donate to the library, taking all of our empty containers, shredded and un-shredded papers and cardboard to the recycling center and food shopping, I did a little bit of letterbox hunting all by myself.

Today's box was located at the Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland. It was a very easy find, but took a lot longer for me to retrieve than it should have. The box is hidden in a tree that is in plain sight from the parking lot. When I first surmised which tree to look in, there was a car parked directly in front of it, not more than 25 feet away. The driver was in the car, and he was facing the tree and me. So I wandered around the walking trails for a bit in the hopes that this person would leave. By the time I returned, he had. It occurred to me that if anyone did see me, they might think it was drop for drugs or even better, national secrets!

It appears I'm the first person who's found this letterbox in nearly a year. The last dated entry was from August 2006. The stamp is a hand-carved image of a tree, and the keeper of the box includes a yellow and a green marker so that you can make the tree two colors when you stamp your book.

Friday, July 06, 2007

More Light Bulbs!

This evening Kenji and I found the remaining light bulbs scattered around the town of West Orange.

Liberty Middle School

This one is located outside of brand new Liberty Middle School.

Light Bulb Meets Lion

This light bulb plays with the lion that sits in front of the Wilshire Hotel.

Diet - West O 7 Public?

Last One!

Finally! The last light bulb! This one is outside Gregory School.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

20 Years Ago Today

Exactly 20 years ago today, Kenji and his family went to visit a friend of his dad's. Kenji and his brother were outside on the front lawn throwing Crazy Jacks onto the road to celebrate the Fourth of July. One of the Crazy Jacks Kenji's brother threw bounced off the road, across the street, and landed in a neighbor's large maple tree. The two brothers looked at each other - nothing happened. But then five seconds later, the entire 25-foot-tall tree erupted in flames!

Kenji thought it was funny as all the parents ran outside to fight the fire with garden hoses. After several minutes, the grownups managed to extinguish the flames. At that very moment, the fire department arrived.

The next day, Kenji went to Chicago to visit Uncle Mark. The End.

Wake Up!

This morning Kenji and I slept in because it's a holiday. The kitties don't appreciate that because then they have to wait to be fed. Well, Musubi doesn' t really seem to care, but Spammy will begin gently trying to wake me up starting around 7:00 a.m. He'll come in to visit us, sniff my face, walk around in circles and purr, then lie down on my arm and purr, then stand up, circle around and lie down again and purr, and then also dig at the sheets a bit.

Somewhere around 8:30, Spammy got a little more forceful in his wake-up routine. He had just finished circling around and lied down, purring, when I started to pet him, He bit my arm. It was not a vicious bite... he only bit just hard enough to get a grip on my arm. Then I could feel Spammy try to pick up my arm to take me with him, I assume, downstairs to his food bowl. Now that's just extra cute!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

New License Plates

This evening I went with Tiff on a little adventure. Our mission was to drive to Woodbridge to pick up the new license plates for the car Tiff bought on Saturday. Instead of taking the Parkway, we took the little roads. Along the way, we drove through the town of Westfield.

It just so happened that Terraplane Blues, a local blues band, was playing on the sidewalk, outside of Westfield's Bombay store. After fetching Tiff's license plates, we stopped by and enjoyed the last set of the show. We saw two of the band members, Gary and Jen, perform as guest musicians at a Gas House Gorillas show back in January. Gary and Jen were awesome then, and they were awesome tonight! That's why I bought one of their CDs. If you like blues, you should buy one too. :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Light Bulbs on Parade

Back in July 2001, Kenji took me on my first visit to Seattle. That summer Seattle was had Pigs on Parade, and something like 150 large fiberglass decorated pigs scattered all over the city. It was like going on an Easter egg hunt - we managed to find 50 or 60 of them. We took turns posing for a picture with each pig, and I made a little photo album of all the pigs.

Yesterday, we discovered that the town of West Orange, where Thomas Edison had his laboratories all those years ago, now has a series of 20 giant fiberglass decorated light bulbs (and this one cow with heads all over it) scattered all around town. I don't think the exhibit is called Lightbulbs on Parade, but that's what I'm going to call it. The exhibit is part of an awareness campaign to remind residents to conserve energy. The irony was not lost on me as we drove our car all around West Orange, hunting for these light bulbs. ;)

Ugly Bulb

This was the first light bulb we photographed today. It was also the ugliest. Not a bright idea, in my opinion.

Wind Power

This light bulb seems quite on topic with its portrayal of wind power.


This very Earthy light bulb is at the corner of Pleasant Valley Way and Northfield Ave., sort of.

Congratulations Graduates!

This one is in front of West Orange High School.

Congratulations Class of 2007!


A nice flower arrangement...

Thomas Alva Edison

And here's the guy with the bright idea...

And again from the other side.