Monday, June 29, 2009

Check Us Out

If you have read some of my past posts, then you are all very well aware of how much I hate this recession. Although Mr. P is still busy, his larger accounts have cut WAY back. Unfortunately, the first thing to go in this economy has been the big spending on advertising with many of our clients.

We have been busy little beavers, trying to drum up new work and have actually brought in some new accounts, albeit small ones. Unfortunately, neither Mr. P nor I are great salespeople. We have hired a few sales reps, only to be let down time and time again. It seems that most of the people we have discussed selling our services with start off gung-ho, only to either disappear off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again, or stop in from time to time just to let us know that they have gotten nowhere. It makes me wonder if they are actually out there trying to push Mr. P's work.

The funny thing is that Mr. P's work can certainly speak for itself, and his pricing is comparable if not well below this region's price point. He is always willing to work with his clients if they have a set budget and will diligently make sure they are getting the biggest "bang for their buck" as far as the most inexpensive, yet high quality photography they are looking for.

Mr. P not only does work locally, but has many clients not only nationwide, but worldwide as well. Fedex and email are a beautiful thing! Anyway, I wanted to put it out there that if any of you Dear Blogging Friends know anyone in need of photography, graphic design, etc. . . then please steer them our way. Mr. P always offers a FREE test shoot, to make sure the client is happy with the quality of his work. If the client is unhappy, no charge, no questions asked, thank you for giving us a chance. It is a no-brainer, can't lose arrangement.

Please check out his gallery at this link. It is a small sampling of some of his work. He offers a full range of services from photography only to concept planning and/or full brochure, catalog or website design. He even offers printing services. It is a soup to nuts deal and the client can pick and choose what services he/she wants. If the client wants the full photography to printing of a catalog, so be it. If he/she just wants a few photos done, that is fine too. So, again, if any of you know anyone needing this kind of service, please check out his gallery and spread the word. Mr. P and I thank you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

They Just Don't Make Them Like They Used To (Part 2)

So, as it goes in the world of Me and Mr. P, our smelly septic saga continues. As you read in my last post about our lovely leachfield, we thought that our Power-Super Shock Miracle Cure was working. This was after our three out of 5 sunny days that we have had in the month of June. I suppose that it is not the fault of the procedure we are trying, but the fact that Mother Nature seems to be either suffering from Dementia and has forgotten that we exist in this little corner of the earth, or she is VERY angry with me and Mr. P for some unknown assault we have made on nature.

I admit, we are not so green, but we are trying. I sit each day and like a little prayer, talk to her in hopes that she will hear my pleas. I have begged, cajoled and even tried to barter. I have promised to plant a tree, recycle more and even will buy a hybrid car if this will make her happy and send some warming, drying sunshine our way. I do not think she is listening. Either that, or she enjoys this little competition I have seemed to create. I guess everyone needs to get their kicks somehow.

You see, Mother Nature and I have this seemingly neverending, competitive game we play. On the allotted schedule each week, I run from toilet to sink to shower and dump the exact measured amount of product down the drains. And each week, as soon as I am done, Mother Nature dumps a deluge of rain upon us for the next 5 days. I picture her often, wherever she may be, shimmying and laughing in sheer pleasure, as she purposely and vengefully sabotages our project. It is making me crazy! (As you can see by the fact that I actually think that Mother Nature has a well thought-out, vengeful plan against us.)

Next week, we will hit our 1 month mark. The "expert" did tell us that it would probably take 2 months in our case because our system is so far gone. This news, at least, still gives us the glimmer of hope that this will work and we have not wasted all the money gone into this procedure, just to have to end up in the hell of replacing the system that we were/are trying to avoid.

So for the next month, I will continue to play this little game with Mother Nature. I will run from drain to drain each week, treating our system and then sitting in wait for the rain to flow. I will continue to pray, beg and cajole in hopes that Dear Mother Nature will FINALLY decide to take pity on this poor wretched soul.

I will still live my life like a Pilgrim, using minimal water, eating off paper with plastic, staring into the abyss of the yellow toilet bowls regularly and showering under the watchful eye of the Shower Nazi. I have actually gotten used to going out with conditioner left in my hair, half shaved legs and a mediocre body wash at best. I have no idea how ANYONE can fully clean themselves in under 5 minutes. Believe me, I've tried, but my body just takes WAY too much maintenance as far as cleaning goes.

On a lighter note, as Mr. P and I continue to make our weekly trek to the laundry mat, we are actually having fun. We have decided to make a game of it. We are trying a new laundry mat each week. We rate them. We have an intricate scoring system based on size, cleanliness, cost, amenites offered (some of them don't even have a bathroom) and timeframe of getting the laundry done. We have gone out of our way to talk to the people that are there and find out about who they are, where they are from and what brings them to the laundry mat. We have met some interesting people and have heard some extraordinary stories. It would make for an interesting documentary - I kid you not.

We have turned this weekly outing into our "Date Morning". As we wait for our washers and dryers (Yes, oftentimes we have taken more than half of the machines), and as we use our finely-tuned system of sorting and folding, we are having fun. We talk about things that we usually don't have the time for, we joke and laugh, and we meet and greet our fellow laundrymatters. We have taken to sometimes dropping our laundry into the machines and then running out to get all of those in attendance coffee and donuts. These people love us. I guess they don't get coffee and donuts that often. It makes us feel good.

So, my friends, as our smelly septic saga continues, I guess there is always that silver lining in the clouds. Mr. P and I have learned some new things about each other and have discovered ways of life that we could never imagine living. We have heard stories and sagas that make us grateful for each other, our children and what we have. We have met people that we never would have stopped to talk to before and we have discovered a way to spend a little us time in the process of being productive. So as Mother Nature and I continue our battle, at least I have my weekly dates with Mr. P to look forward to.

As usual, To Be Continued . . .

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Little Miss B Is Stylin'

If you're anything like me, then your pets rank right up there with your children. My lovely Little Miss B has brought us more joy in the last year than words could ever express. She is sweet and lovable. She is quirky and fun. And just like my Dear Cherubs, I want her to have only the best.

Little Miss B is one stylish pup and a very spoiled one at that. She has more collars and matching leads (of course they must match) than there are days of the week. She has a bed in almost EVERY room in our house and two at my office, and I have purchased more dog bowls than we have dishes in our own kitchen.

As some of you know, Mr. P is a photographer. A few of his clients are in the pet product business and one in particular, UP COUNTRY, has some amazing stuff. He recently did a catalog for them, and of course as the shooting was going on, I did a little shopping. He was very concerned that at the end of day, we would owe them money instead of the other way around.

Anyway, I ordered a couple of collars and matching leads.
Don't you absolutely love the alligators?
Can you say, Sooooo Preppy?

Align Left
Alligator from the Mayfield Collection

Paisley from the Town & Country Collection

And some beds . . .

Pink Awning Stripe for my office (Pink and Green, what's better than that?)

Blue Seashells for the Summer House (Yes it matches my bedroom so well!)

And I originally bought this Natural Stripe for Dear Elder Sis, but loved it so much and it matches my family room just right, and Little Miss B just settled into it like she's had it forever, and it's not like you could ever have too many beds, and . . .

Just for the record, the Pink Awning Stripe and Blue Seashell beds are both OUTDOOR futons. This way, Little Miss B can relax in luxury outside as well as in. Yes, UP COUNTRY carries both indoor AND outdoor futons.

Although they are not currently available, coming soon, UP COUNTRY will be carrying "Tag-Its". And for someone like me, who is constantly changing collars and leads, these are perfect. With a quick snap of the fingers, you can move your dog's tags from one collar to the next. No more messing around with those unbearable jump rings that are always ruining our neatly manicured nails. Just attach your dog's tags to the bottom hook and use the top piece to attach to your dog's collar. It's so simple. Have tags, will travel.

Also coming soon, is an adorable line of pet furniture. They will be carrying pet beds, feeders and toy boxes. You can get them in very beachy colors like blues, reds, greens, etc. . . . And, yes, I have already placed an order for those too.

This is Little Miss B digging through their prototype to find the perfect toy. And yes, the toys are all from the UP COUNTRY line as well.
(In the background, you can see one of the feeders.)

UP COUNTRY is also now carrying keychains - you can go out in style with your matching keychain, collar and lead.

And from what I hear, rumor has it that they may soon be carrying belts and flip flops. How cute is that? A whole Mommy & Me line for me and Little Miss B. I can't wait. Check out their sight. They really do have some great things.

And that is coming straight from Little Miss B.
She just loves ALL their futons - so comfy, comfy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

They Just Don't Make Them Like They Used To

The saying, "They don't make them like they used to" is so very true.  

We have lived in our house for 13 years.  It was supposed to be the "transitional" house.  You know, the one you live in until you can afford what you really want.  But as it goes, we fell in love with the area, the people, and yes, even the school system is quite good.  We decided to stay. 

In the years we have lived here, we have done quite a bit to upgrade the house to make it our "home", and we still love the area.  The problem is, everything around us is falling apart.  We have been through two ovens, 3 refrigerators and numerous dishwashers.  I have replaced a few toilets, seen furniture come and go and we have had our family meals at more than 2 or 3 kitchen tables.  We are on our second water heater and our poor furnace has been repaired more times than we would like to count.  We have spent many a cold winter night wrapped in dozens of blankets, spending quality time as a family huddled around the wood stove.  

But these are just minor inconveniences that have made us laugh and play remember when on more than one occasion.  But now, we have much bigger fish to fry.  Our entire septic system is on its last leg.  Not the tank itself, but the lovely drainage system that encompasses a great percentage of our backyard.  You see, our problem is twofold.  First, when they were building our neighborhood, they used our lot as a place to dump a lot of the boulders, etc. that were taken out of other people's yards that had their homes built before us.  Second, our entire neighborhood is built on ledge and the land is constantly shifting.  Quite noticeably.  One day, there will be a large rock in the middle of the front yard and the next, it will have magically disappeared and seemingly have shifted to the side of the house.  

We first discovered problems with the leach-field a number of years ago.  We noticed that there was a not so pleasant odor wafting about.  We complained about the "neighbor" who failed to pump his/her septic tank on a regular basis.  Until Mr. P went to mow the lawn.  As he drove about on the tractor, he realized that not only was this "scent" emanating from our own backyard, but it was as if he were trying to drive through a swamp while mowing the lawn.  We did not know how this could be, as we have always diligently had our tank pumped right on schedule.   Every.  Single.  Year.  After calls and quotes from numerous "professionals", it was discovered that because of how closely our "field" sits to the ledge, we have a problem with bacterial growth.  This bacteria causes the drainage system to fail and therefore instead of our sewage draining through the system, it drains "up" into our yard.  Nice, huh?

After a few thousand dollars and more than a few thousand gallons of peroxide flushed through our system, the "field" did dry up.  We had not had a problem since.  Until a few weeks ago.  At first, our eldest cherub came in from playing outside and said that the backyard was very mushy.  We chalked it up to the amount of rain and little sun we've had for the past few months.  Then came prom night.  Our next door neighbor's son decided to have the post-prom party at his house.  They were setting up tents in the yard and were going to have a campfire, etc. etc.  and yes, we were invited to join the fun.  So about midnight on prom night, we packed up and headed over to join the fun.  And it hit us.  The smell.  It was an undeniable, horrific, sewage smell.  This was when we opened the back door to head out.  Then, about halfway through our trek next door, littlest cherub piped up, "Mom, my foot is all wet.  What's that smell?  Why is our grass so soggy?  EEEEEWWWWWW - I'm stepping in poop!!!!"  And so began our slow approach into septic-sewage hell.  

After more phone calls and discussions with professionals, it was determined that because of our proximity to "wetlands", the "special" type of system that had been installed because of the proximity to ledge, and the fact that the sand around our system was now officially considered hazardous waste, our minimal cost of system replacement was somewhere around the $50,000.00 mark.  Yes my friends, you read that correctly.  $50 thousand dollars.  MINIMUM!

Because we do not have an extra $50,000 lying around, as well as the fact that dealing with permits, the DEM and various and sundry other government offices makes our heads spin, Mr. P and I decided to do a little more research to seek alternative resolutions before jumping into a project of that enormity.  And research we did.  After long and tension ridden hours of research, we found a company that sells a product GUARANTEED to rid us of our problem.  And only for a fraction of the cost of system replacement.  

Great, lets do it.  So we called and spoke to one of their "experts" who helped us order the kits needed to super shock, power shock and treat our leach-field. 

"But you should have your septic tank pumped the same day you start treatment" he says.  
"We did that last month."
"Well, it doesn't matter.  You need to do it the same day."  
OK, we called and made the appointment.  
"And you shouldn't use regular laundry detergent or bleach.  Let me recommend a special brand." 
"OK, I guess I need to order that too."
"And the same company has the automatic dish detergent, regular dish soap, toilet paper, toilet bowl cleaner, hand soap, facial soap, shampoo . . . . . . . that you will need to start using too." 
"Um, I can't use my regular face soap and shampoo?"
"We don't recommend it."
"OK, I guess I can give it a try.  Would you happen to know if I can buy these items at the local stores?"
"Well, sometimes they carry them, but you would be better off getting on an auto-refill program through one of the stores I'll recommend on the internet."
I am now thinking that this guy makes a commission on all sales recommended.  Apparently, the point of all these "special" products is that they contain bacteria that will eat the "bad biomat" that has decided to take up residence in and destroy or leach-field.  

Needless to say, we order our kits, schedule our septic pumping and order our gazillion dollars worth of new "special"products, and I am now thinking that we are probably not far off from the $50,000 mark anyway.  We are ready to rumble . . . 

All of my products come in (in a very timely manner I might add) and Eldest Cherub and I get to work.  We proceed to complete step 1 of our new project in lightening quick speed.  We wait the allotted 3 hour time slot and on to step 2.  Now we just have to remember that in 5 days we need to flush the special solution down the toilet furthest from our septic system and then in another 7 days, we need to repeat step 2.  After all this, we will magically have a brand new system.

Then I read the fine print.  "This procedure will take a minimum of 30 days to work.  If your system is more than 10 years old, it will probably take a minimum of 60.  We recommend NO water use during this timeframe if possible.  If this is not possible, use minimal, limited water."
"WHAT?!"  I think we may need to move for 2 months.  

When Mr. P gets home, I attack him on his way in the door.  
"Did you know we can't use our water for 60 days?"
"Yeah, the guy told me that on the phone . . ."
"And you didn't think to mention it to me?"
"What would be the point?  We can't use it, it would've freaked you out, you would have started to complain much sooner than now, and we really can't afford the 5 star hotel I know you are considering booking to stay in for the next 2 months.  It says we can use minimal water.  We'll just have to limit showers, eat off paper, only flush when necessary, and find a laundromat."
"OH, is THAT ALL!  I'm so sorry, I thought we'd be REALLY inconvenienced . . . "
And so it went, for the next couple of hours.  Mr. P telling me that it would be another adventure.  Me complaining that I feel like a Pilgrim.  But, so be it.  We will do what we have to do.  

So this is how we have spent our last few weeks.  We eat off paper with plastic utensils.  We take 5 minute showers (and Mr. P has become an expert at timing us).  I have become accustomed to finding full toilets and have made quite a few interesting friends from my weekly ventures to the laundromat. 

Yesterday, Mr. P and eldest cherub dug up some of the yard around the leach-field because it still looked like we were getting pooling.  Much to our surprise and JOY, the sand was Dry.  Yes, DRY!  Hooray!  The pooling was just on top, from all the rain.  

So it was a big exciting day.  In my sheer pleasure of having our little experiment work so quickly, I happily danced from room to room collecting laundry to wash in the convenience of my own home, on my own time.  In went load #1.  When it was done, in went load #2.  How happy I was.  I was going to get laundry done.  Life was good.  

And then . . . I went to switch load #2 to the dryer and guess what.  Load #1 was still wet.  WET - it had been in the dryer for an hour.  Did I start the dryer?  Did I run it on the right setting?  Shoot, I would have to run it again.  So I diligently checked all the settings and made sure to hit START.  A FULL HOUR later, in I went to put load #2 in and load #1 was STILL WET.  And the dryer was cold.  Apparently, our heating element is now gone.  I am now off to the laundromat to rewash my washed clothes.  I guess it's true, They just don't make them like they used to.  

To Be Continued . . . 

Monday, June 8, 2009

Losing It

Nothing beats the perfect beach day in New England.  The cloudless, blue sky, hot and steamy, life is good, by the water weather that summer brings.  I miss this.  

It seems to me that in the last 2 or 3 years, these perfect New England days have been few and far between.  We have had plenty of cold.  Lots of snow.  And definitely more than our fair share of rain.  Where are those beautiful beach-going days?  It is June.  I have had my heat on more often than not.  There is something intrinsically wrong with this picture.  

Yesterday was sunny - but not hot.  Today is just gross.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are supposed to be even worse.     I.    AM.    WEARING.    PANTS.     AND SOCKS!

Every morning, I look longingly into my closet and pine for the days of wearing my flip-flops, madras and t-shirts.  I think I may bring my winter wardrobe out of hiding.  It doesn't look good.  I am very depressed.  Where are my beach days?  I think Mother Nature has gotten old.  I think she may have developed dementia and forgotten the upper North Eastern corner of our lovely lower 48.  Or have we done something to make her angry?  I don't know.  All I know is I may be going crazy.  I have become and adamant believer in Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I have this affliction.  I am sure of it.  

I am sad and angry and miserable.  I gripe and groan and grunt.  I am short tempered, ill-willed and mean.  So I ask you, if any of you has an in with our lovely Mother Nature, please put in a good word for us in the Northeast, because I can tell you this - if my Summer doesn't arrive shortly, you may be reading about me in the police beat rather than on my blog . . .