Bedraggled scrunchie

Our washing machine was making funny noises on Monday. On Tuesday they weren’t so funny, so we called Village Plumbing.

Diagnosis? A scrunchie had got caught in the motor. Fortunately the motor did not need to be replaced.

Advice from the plumber? Don’t put small things in the washing machine or they’ll get sucked into the motor.

Invoice? $97.00

The good news: He fixed the condensation drain clog in our fridge for no extra charge.

Scary bird

It’s happened to me now! This morning I walked down the driveway to pick up the newspaper off the lawn and this bird swooped down on me five or six times with an evil screech. Frightened the life out of me. I swatted it off with the Wall Street Journal and rushed into the house. John didn’t believe me so went out there to check it out. It swooped at him, too! We figure there’s a nest nearby. I’ve e-mailed my neighbours to find out what they’re putting in their bird feeder.

Anyone know what kind of bird it is?

Emsworth snow and other stuff

The Emsworth Habs are also pleased to report that it snowed last week in Emsworth for the first time in five years. It was all gone by lunchtime.

Scattered clouds and 73 degrees here in Houston. I’m sitting outside reading Eat, Pray, Love on my Sony Reader. David, if Libby hasn’t read it, buy her a copy. I think she’d like it.

Have a great weekend, Habs and loyal readers!

Good luck, Martha!

Martha (that’s Nick‘s other half, for all you non-Habershons) is running in the London Marathon on Sunday. If anyone would like to sponsor her, here‘s her donation page. She’s running for Sense, just like the Atlantic rowers.

Here’s hoping for perfect weather and no blisters, Martha. Be sure to let know how you do.

UPDATE: Martha finished in 4 hours 27 mins 52 secs and raised £1,655.50. Brilliant, Martha!

They finished!

Mr. Lock and Mr. Boreham have finished their row across the Atlantic. It took 86 days.

Unfathomable. Just think about everything you’ve done over the last 86 days. Then imagine yourself in a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean for all that time.

There’s an article in the Bristol Evening Post about them. I’ll cut and paste it below in case it disappears.

Date : 08.04.08

After a gruelling 86 days battling horrendous weather and huge waves, a former Bristol Grammar School pupil is the first partially-sighted person to row across the Atlantic Ocean.

Alan Lock, 28, is now set to enter the Guinness Book of Records after reaching dry land in the Caribbean, sore and exhausted from almost three months at sea.

Mr Lock left La Gomera in Tenerife in his 24ft boat, Gemini, on January 11 with Matt Boreham from Norwich, who four years ago set his own world record for a solo row across the Atlantic.

On Saturday afternoon, after battling 35-knot winds, six-metre waves and crossing 3,000 miles of open ocean, the intrepid pair came ashore at Port St Charles in Barbados.

And after meeting his family on the quayside, an emotional Mr Lock, who grew up in Clevedon, said: “This is a dream come true for me, and I am so proud to show what people who are blind can achieve.”

But the pair almost did not make it. Mr Lock said: “On Friday we were about 50 nautical miles away from Barbados, battling adverse weather conditions that were driving us south, away from the island.

“It was absolutely tormenting to be so close and then have to battle virtually our worst weather right at the finish.”

The unaccompanied crossing has taken a great physical toll on the pair.

Mr Lock, a former Royal Navy lieutenant, lost two-and-a-half-stone.

While he is ready to celebrate his extraordinary achievement, his family are just glad to have him back in one piece.

His dad, Chris, said: “We were absolutely overjoyed when they came in – it was pretty emotional.

“The plan now is to rest up a bit and head home towards the end of the week.”

Mr Lock’s challenge was supported by double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell, who in 2006 rowed the Atlantic with TV presenter Ben Fogle.

Mr Cracknell said: “Congratulations to Alan and Matt for rowing all the way.

“My experiences are nothing compared to the incredible bravery that rowing across the Atlantic with vision impairment must require. What a feat.”

Mr Lock had to quit his naval career after just three years when he was diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration, meaning he can only use his peripheral vision and is registered blind.

Now a business analyst for HSBC, he and Matt hope that their expedition will raise £100,000 for deaf/blind charity Sense.

For more information or to sponsor their expedition, log on to

Wendy3 — no longer perfect

How’s Wendy? I can hear you all asking.

Wendy got damaged. In the yoga parking lot. A student leaving in a hurry didn’t see her when he pulled out, and his truck side swiped her front left side. The damage wasn’t too bad. The body shop replaced the fender and the chrome ring around the headlight and said they’d have to repaint the entire bonnet. I declined, and asked them simply to buff the scratches. You can hardly see a thing now.

Here’s a before picture and an after picture. The student, who was more upset than I was, paid for everything and has been forgiven.

Kitchen makeover

Yes, I know. has been quiet lately.

But we’ve been busy.

Remember I mentioned that our tenant had moved out and that we were going to fix up the kitchen before finding a replacement?

We did.

Or at least, John and Mikey (the best “no job too small” handyman in Texas) did.

The kitchen was always far too small. John had this idea that if we moved the water heater to the attic it would free up some space. He went ahead and did it. We had to discard the gas heater and buy an electric one (for safety reasons). Then Mikey ripped out the rotting floor and the cupboard doors and the counter and the sink and just about everything else. He built new cupboard doors and drawers and put in a new sink and all sorts of things. We moved the the appliances around. No longer was the washer/dryer blocking the window. We put the stove in its place. And then we ordered granite countertops and extended the counter to where the water heater had been, with space underneath for a cat litter box (just in case our new tenant had a cat). Mikey fixed some leaky pipes. He painted everything. Finding the floor tile is a separate post on its own. I’ll tell you the story when time permits.

So anyway, if you’d like to see the transformation in pictures, log in and click right here.

The project was finished by the end of February. We raised the rent by $150 and called Blake Hillegeist, our favourite realtor. The second person who looked at it signed a lease and moved in immediately. Single professional female with two cats. Purrrrfect!