Home Improvements

Lucky Habershons and loyal readers! You get to see the paint dry this morning. We’ve had our living room painted and (sniff) had crown molding (that’s “coving” to you, Habershons and other Brits) installed. John picked the paint colour for the walls. Brave, isn’t he? I think it looks wicked nice.

You’re only getting a glimpse, as we’re not finished yet. We’ve budgeted a fixed amount for house repairs and painting. If there’s enough left over we’re going to get the hardwood floors sanded and refinished — something that hasn’t been done since 1942. We also have a lot of dusting to do.

Mikey (Michael’s General Repairs & Remodeling) has been doing the work. Mikey remodelled our kitchen and painted our house in 2000. He’s the best! It’s rare to find a contractor who works on residences, one job at a time, brings all his own tools, charges you what he quoted, and shows up when he says he will, which has been 8 a.m. in the morning for the last two weeks.

On Monday he’s going to start working on our bedroom. He’ll be painting it (the pressure’s on me to pick the colour) and installing (double sniff) crown molding. I’m also trying to persuade John that we could really use a cat flap in one of the french window panes. He’s resisting, but I’ve got four more days to work on him. Also, we’re going to get rid of our lamps on each side of the bed and get track lighting installed on the wall so that we only have to pull a string or flip a switch above our heads. What luxury!


Another peeve. I keep hearing this on the radio: “tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.”; “3 p.m. in the afternoon.”

a.m. is short for ante meridiem. Ante meridiem is Latin for “before noon.”

p.m. is short for post meridiem. Post meridiem is Latin for “after noon.”

So will everyone out there stop saying “tomorrow morning at 7 before noon”; “3 after noon in the afternoon.” How about trying “tomorrow morning at 7 o’clock” or “tomorrow at 7 a.m.” or “3 o’clock in the afternoon” or “3 p.m.”?

No, I didn’t get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. John did, though!

The Rocket is an Astro. If I'm dreaming, please don't wake me up . . . ever . . .

Roger Clemens is an Astro! I can’t believe it! He’s been talked out of retirement by his kids, his fans, by the Astros, by a Hummer dealership, by . . . omigosh, he’s an Astro. See the picture to the left? That’s him. In an ASTROS’ HAT!

I have a Roger Clemens story.

When I lived in Cape Cod, Clemens was at the beginning of his career pitching for the Red Sox. I first became aware of him one cold and rainy night in 1986 when I was stuck at the office listening to him pitch a game against the Seattle Mariners. He kept on striking them out. By the end of the game he’d set a major league record, striking out 20 of them. Okay, you can roll your eyes, I’m going to say it . . . that game was so exciting it sent shivers down my back. I was already a Red Sox fan, but this cemented the relationship.

He wasn’t making much money that year. Then, during the winter it was time for his contract renewal. I forget the dates and the amounts, but it was getting close to Spring Training in 1987, and the Red Sox offered him something in the vicinity of $600,000. Everyone in Boston was shocked, including me. He was worth at least a million, having also won his first Cy Young award in 1986. I sat down and typed four letters. One was to the Boston Globe, one to the Boston Herald, one to the Cape Cod Times, and one to Roger. In the first three I told the newspapers that I was sending a dollar to Roger Clemens and hoped that 399,999 other fans would do the same to keep him in Boston. The fourth letter I mailed to Roger at Fenway Park, enclosing a dollar.

All three papers printed my letter. Then hell broke loose. I was easy to find in the ‘phone book, and people started calling me and jamming up my answering machine. They were all pro-Clemens, and told me they were also sending their dollars. Two radio stations called and interviewed me live on the air, and the local TV station came by and interviewed me at my place of business. The only thing that saved me was that a dancer in Boston announced she was going on hunger strike and wouldn’t eat until Clemens had been given what he was worth. She diverted the attention!

People who knew me came by my office leaving dollars, asking me to send them to Roger. When all the fuss had died down I had $73 and mailed them to Fenway Park. I never did hear from Roger, but that’s okay. I knew he was a busy person and got a lot of mail.

He’s since pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees. He retired at the end of last season, but has been talked into pitching one more year . . .

. . . for the Astros!

I am speechless.

Condi's New Year

Of our three cats, Condi has the healthiest appetite. So we were quite concerned yesterday when she sat huddled on the bed and refused to come to breakfast. She stayed there all day and wouldn’t even play with Maggie. Last night she ate a little, and this morning tucked heartily into breakfast. Phew!

I’m almost certain that she was scared by the gun firing [Texans have a habit of firing their guns in the air, and sometimes the bullets land on relatives and friends, as Kevin notes)] and fireworks on New Year’s Eve. We were out at the time. I don’t remember seeing her when we got home after midnight, although Maggie was very nervous. Mud used to be terrified of loud noises, but now she’s stone deaf and completely oblivious to anything going on around her. Nothing ever fazed our fearless Cindie.

If you’ve got a new pet, stay home with them on July 4th, Guy Fawkes night, and New Year’s Eve. It could save you a large vet bill.

Stay Home, Emsworth Habershons!

We fly to Las Vegas to meet the Emsworth Habershons and there’s a terror alert (link sent by a concerned Callie). The Emsworth Habershons also visited the World Trade Center in the summer of 2001. Another Emsworth Habershon moved to Santa Barbara for a year in 2003, just before the fires started. Today the Emsworth Habershons are taking a British Airways flight from Los Angeles to London and there’s a British Airways alert. I know they’ve wreaked havoc in other places, too, but can’t bring them to mind at this time of the morning.

Have a safe journey, Emsworth Habershons. And how about staying home for a while so we can all relax and get on with our year?

I think they'll catch on

a genuine train driver's handThe big day has finally arrived. Houston now has trains running up and down Main Street, from UH Downtown all the way past Reliant Stadium. Deciding not to miss the first day, Sally, Michael, Everett, John the train geek and I walked downtown to catch a train. Unfortunately it seemed that about 15,000 other Houstonians had the same idea, and it took several hours before we could get on one. This way to the photograph album!

There are many people who think the light rail plan is a total waste of money and that no one will ever ride the trains. I hope they’re wrong. Nothing would make me happier than to be able to take a train to work every day . . . except not going to work at all.

New Year's Ramblings

Rick Poss of the Dead End AngelsI haven’t been crazy about New Year’s Eve parties since a boyfriend dumped me at 11 p.m. on December 31st, 1975. Doug was his name. He worked for Northrop in Saudi Arabia. After a fight at the Northrop dinner dance he drove me back to the Aramco compound and left me on the doorstep. I never saw him again. I still have painful memories of what led up to the fight; it started before Christmas, and if anyone wants to hear the story, I’ll post it here next year.

Since that night, I’ve always toasted the British New Year (6 p.m. Central Time) and been fast asleep by midnight. An exception was December 31st, 2000, when John and I rang in 2001 drinking with friends and eating pistachio nuts. That year I landed in hospital twice (nothing to do with the pistachio nuts).

Well, I gave it another chance last night, and went to the Mucky Duck‘s New Year’s Eve party. Jack Saunders was playing, along with Rick Poss (picture by Everett) of the Dead End Angels, and Kimberley Kyle. There was also a drummer and a bass guitarist whose names I did not catch (if they ever were announced). The menu was leek and potato soup, followed by pear and parmesan cheese salad, followed by a choice of roasted salmon or steak, followed by dessert, followed by ‘free’ champagne at midnight. At $85 per person it seemed rather steep, but we went. By “we”, I mean John, Everett (his son visiting from California), Callie and Kevin.

It was a good evening with good company. On the negative side, it was quite a squash. Our table was attached to a party of nine, although we were fortunately right next to the stage. The music was not the good ol’ Texas music we were expecting, but a series of oldies (Beatles, etc.). And they ran out of chocolate mousse. I had to settle for the lemon tart.

On the positive side, the food was excellent and we had fun. I even saw Kevin wearing one of the party hats for a brief moment.

Now for the weird part. I turned to the person sitting on my left (one of the party of nine) to break the ice briefly, and asked him what induced him to shell out $85 and come to the Mucky Duck on New Year’s Eve. The Mucky Duck is not renowned for serving gourmet cuisine and the usual shows are $10. He looked at me and said, “I know you. You worked in Saudi Arabia.”

No, it wasn’t Doug, but it was someone I remembered well. I used to play on the same softball team with his wife. He introduced me to his son sitting opposite, and when I inquired after Sue (name changed here — I don’t know why, but I’ve changed it anyway), he told me she’d died. Talk about a conversation stopper.

It was a strange evening. There I was sitting next to him and didn’t have a clue what to say. We were in different parties and I wasn’t sure whether he’d want to go over old times (i.e. 1975 through 1985). I decided to concentrate on the music and my own friends, and got on with the New Year’s Eve celebrations. The whole evening, though, I was having flashbacks to those eleven years. I thought about Doug a lot too, and wondered what he was doing. The last I’d heard about him was that he’d had to leave Saudi Arabia in a hurry because his ex-wife had mailed him scotch in a Clorox bottle with a tiny pin prick. Apparently it smelt really good by the time it arrived at the Saudi Post Office.

Anyway, I’m rambling here. The day is almost over and I still have to write about the Grand Opening of the Downtown Houston Light Rail, which is where we’ve been all day.

Happy New Year to all Habershons and other Habershons.com readers. Yes, even you lurkers who won’t register!