Monday, January 11, 2010


Thystle awakened me recently from my winter hibernation to ask where the heck I've been. An entirely reasonable question given that there have been times when I was posting 2-3 times a week. While I'm not saying I am entitled to Writer's Block because I don't think I qualify, I did hit a wall and have needed to take a break from posting.

Having said that, there are a few marginally interesting events that have occured over the last few months that might be worth putting pen to paper for. Please review them and let me know if you see something you would like to hear more about:
  • We finally sold the MONEY PIT at the end of 2009 and it is now draining someone else of their life savings. We wish the new owners well but are shocked we haven't heard from them in the form of a letter bomb.

  • Our crazy ex-Realtor Ben is even crazier than we thought. We filed a complaint against him with the State Board of Realtors, which has caused an even darker, eviler side of him to show its ugly face. He makes Rasputin the Mad Monk look like Mother Teresa.

  • I am going to Thailand at the end of February.

I see that I have lost one of my 17 Kool-Aid drinkers and fear more will depart if I don't start posting again. So as a public service, please feel free to suggest I expand on one of the subjects about or else I will keep getting furtive notes from Thystle.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Apparently there is quite a kaffufle brewing over at a certain *"feminist" blog which has managed to spill over to another, less controversial blog written by the very sensible Lorrie Veasey. The main ingredients of this international incident center around the question of whether or not it is legal or ethical to create jewelry from U.S. currency and whether commenting on this subject can lead one to be banned from said blog. You can read the whole story over at **Lorrie's blog so I won't parse it here other than to say censorship of any kind should never be allowed to take route in this country or anywhere else for that matter. I thought this was a free country but apparently if you post from, say India, for example you are entitled to wield your censor's pen wherever you please. So much for feminism, free speech and differing opinions, but I digress.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the Indian Feminist Princess and perhaps a visit from the Secret Service, I have decided to open my own boutique featuring clothing made entirely from the humble dollar bill. Some might argue that I, too, am defacing U.S. currency in the name of fashion but what if I am? While I am certainly using it in a manner other than what it was intended you could argue I am actually performing a public service. With the recession being what it is, if you can use virtually worthless currency to make a fashion statement, so be it.

I'm thinking of calling my new boutique either "The Original Dollar Dress Shop" or simply "George". If you have a more apt name, however, please feel free to leave it in the comments box. Unless they are profane in nature or you are an angry pseudo-feminist with a sub-continent-sized chip on your shoulder, I promise to publish your comments .

Thursday, July 30, 2009


The saga of Paco’s house continues. This time, however, the story isn’t about destructive, irresponsible tenants, mysterious, unreachable leaks under the foundation or tornadoes rampaging through the neighborhood (yes, that happened, too.) This time, the culprit is our soon-to-be ex-Realtor.

Ben came highly recommended to us by a co-worker and close friend of Paco’s who had hired him to sell her house. Apparently Ben did just a bang-up job and managed somehow to get not one, but three offers within 2 weeks of listing it. Considering the state of the housing market that was quite a feat. So Paco interviewed him and then introduced me to him for my unfettered opinion. I thought Ben was personable, energetic, enthusiastic and obviously a real go-getter. So we hired him, signed a contract and handed him a key to the house. Paco being the organized, efficient person that he is, also handed Ben a large envelope with every kind of document imaginable to give him a good idea of repair history, foundation and roof report and anything else that might make Ben’s job of selling the house that much easier and faster. The last thing dear Ben said to us as he bounced down the front steps was “Gee, I sure wish all of my clients were this organized. You just wouldn’t believe the information and documents I always seem to end up chasing them for.” Then he was gone in a flash, presumably to get busy selling the Money Pit, urm, Paco’s house. We felt so good about having hired Ben we decided the occasion called for a cocktail. Little did we know that that would be the last time we felt like celebrating.

Because it infuriates me to even think about the ensuing events since we hired Ben I must condense them to prevent myself from picking up the phone and hiring Guido to go break Ken’s legs. The ink wasn’t even dry on the contract before the first signs of trouble appeared. We lost count of the un-returned phone calls asking for updates from Ken, we fumed when we found out there had been a leak in the sprinkler system for 5 days and Ken didn’t tell us despite an open house being held during that time. He bailed out the day of the open house, btw, leaving his inexperienced, clueless wife to show the house. The list goes on and on and on. Then, miraculously one day Ben stopped by, apparently not thinking we were home, to leave Paco a note about the water leak, a week after it had first happened. Unfortunately for Ben, I was just pulling up in our driveway and caught him before he could drive off. I dragged him into the house and we demanded he explain his lack of communication skills, irresponsible behavior and general lack of interest in selling our property. After Paco, who is normally very laid-back and calm, tore Ben a new one, we thought things would finally get back on track and Ben would realize he had crossed a line with us and better get his act together. But that was just a clever ruse on his part. The best was yet to come.

This past Monday Paco received the following mass email from Ben:

From: Ben Smith
Sent: Friday, July 24, 2009 9:00 PM
Subject: Out of the office

Hello My Friends,
I want each of you to know that I will be out of the office beginning tomorrow morning. My family is going on a much-needed vacation to Rome. We depart Rome for a 10 day European cruise and I will return back to the office on Monday, August 10. Most of you know Michael, my wonderful assistant. Michael will be working every day to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and Cory, a very seasoned agent in our office, will be handling any real estate activity that comes up. Trust me, you are in good hands while I am away!!! If you need either Michael or Cory their information is noted below. I am not taking my cell phone or computer with me, so I will not have any communication with my office while I am gone.
I will touch base with each of you when I return from my vacation!
Ben Smith

Paco forwarded me the above message and as I sat and read it, my jaw dropping to the floor, all of the anger and frustration I had been feeling already over this situation boiled to the surface. How ironic that he would “not be in touch with his office during his vacation”. What would be different from when he is actually in town? It’s a very good thing that Ben was already safely out of the country when Paco and I read his email. We would both probably be wearing orange jumpsuits at this writing, having dispatched Ben with all haste, preferably in the most heinous way we could think of.

Suffice to say, many phone calls have been made since receiving Ben’s missive and at this writing: BEN IS SO FIRED
Paco met with Cory yesterday and told him Ben is never to come near us or our house again. I repeat: BEN IS SO FIRED

To be continued... upon Ben’s return from his European Vacation…

Monday, June 8, 2009


Some of you who have bothered to check my blog over the last few weeks have no doubt noticed the lack of anything new on said site. If you have decided to withdraw from my “Kool-Aid Drinkers” list I don’t blame you one bit. I’m peeved at myself, too, but unlike the excuse notes I so successfully forged throughout my high school career, I actually have a really good excuse that also happens to be true. It’s called “The Money Pit”.

In an effort to enlighten my readers who may have missed it, about 7 months ago Paco and I had to evict Harold the renter from Paco's house in the ‘burbs due to his blatant disregard for our property and the methodical wrecking of it. Once we got him out of there and assessed the full extent of the damage, it made “Extreme Makeover” look like “Flip this House”. From the foundation to the roof, there was so much damage that we ended up completely remodeling the house, tearing out the old foundation, re-carpeting, installing new tile floors and completely replacing the landscape. In the process we experienced the uncertainty, paranoia and anxiety of a mystery leak under the slab which it turned out was caused by the damage to the foundation. If you have ever had a leak under your house that you cannot find and have had to spend weeks on end lying in a muddy ditch in the middle of February with a flashlight and a camera/roto rooter contraption, staring into a foggy TV screen without the vaguest idea what the heck you’re look at, you will know what I am talking about. Sort of like discovering a bad leak underneath the Great Wall of China after the Big Fountain next to Tibet had been leaking for the last 500 years. Smaller scale, yes, but just as unnerving, frustrating and damaging. It was a 7-month long nightmare but now, thankfully, it is behind us.

Yesterday we finally finished this monumental project, spending one final, 8 hour marathon shift putting the finishing touches on the landscaping, mopping floors and spreading ‘decorative bark’ in the flower beds. There is now a “For Sale” sign in the front yard and our work as slave laborers is done. Now we just have to pray that it sells in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. Who knew that 2 years after first putting Paco’s house on the market it would still be out there, albeit completely renovated and, as the Realtors like to say, "Move in ready!"

This experience has taught me many lessons in patience and perseverance, as well as the reality of just how unreliable and untrustworthy some people can be. But it has also shown me, as if I didn’t know already, how unselfish, noble and truly heroic Paco is. When he found out about the leak under the slab, after all of the foundation pillars had been filled back in with cement, he did not hesitate to dig them all out again by hand and crawl through those dark, scary spaces underneath the house in the dead of winter until he found all 3 leaks. He did not hesitate from jack hammering up all 600 sq ft of ceramic tile and then relaying all of it again, by himself. Even when the foundation people took all of the rock-hard Texas clay from the holes and dumped it all into his prized flower beds, creating 3 foot high mounds and burying all the sprinkler heads, he got out there with his shovel and dug it all out, repaired the sprinklers and then carefully restored the beds to their former glory. He did not shy away from fixing things in that house that no one would ever know were even broken, because he has that kind of integrity, gritty determination and unwavering dedication to making his house whole again. If that meant pouring thousands of dollars and man hours into the effort, so be it. No one can ever truly appreciate the sweat equity that went into every evening and weekend working to repair his house. He was determined to erase every dent, crack, ruined carpet, scratch, dead plant and any other evidence of the unbelievable kind of damage one person can cause. I may have lost a measure of faith in my fellow man over the damage done to our property, but this loss has been overshadowed by my love, respect, admiration and sheer awe of my husband. Paco taught me a valuable lesson in what one human being can accomplish when they put their heart and soul into a project like this simply because they will expect nothing less from themselves. For that this nightmare was worth it, at least to me. Paco may feel differently and probably doesn’t see anything special in what he has accomplished but believe me, it was truly heroic.

Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed for“The Money Pit: SOLD!!"

Thursday, April 30, 2009


A few months ago I posted about my (supposed) brush with Bell’s Palsy and how I wasn’t too sure Dr K, my all-knowing internist, had diagnosed me correctly. Since then I have endured all manner of tests and biological invasions on a quest for the true origin of my strange symptoms. The bottom line is that I do not have, nor have I ever had Bell’s, but no one seems to know what I do have, despite the occasional recurrence of my strange symptoms.

Perhaps I should back up first to say I have been working from home this week due to a bad case of bronchitis (no, not Swine Flu even though Mr. S, my horrible, evil boss, just stuck his head in my cubette and oinked at me) so as a result I had been feeling poorly already. Who knew that Monday night, out of the clear blue, I would suddenly experience another episode of The Curiously Expanding Face? My lips suddenly blew up twice the size of Octo Mom’s, my jaws grew to Kirk Douglas-proportions and the Hives from Hell came back with a vengeance. This was truly adding insult to injury given the fact that I was already miserable from the bronchitis. Remembering what my doctor had said about documenting an episode if possible, I ran upstairs and took a load of photos of my poor, swollen face, intending to present the evidence as soon as I could get an appointment with Dr J, my neurologist.

The next morning I called Dr J to make an appointment. Since my esteemed internist Dr K handed me off to Dr J I have been seeing him every time I have another episode, so naturally I thought I should go back to him ASAP. First, however, I had to run the gauntlet and get past his nurse, Big Bertha, R.N.

8:33 am Leave long, tearful, croaky voice mail for Bertha, explaining my latest bout of facial swelling and hives has returned; beg for same-day appointment with Dr J. Hang up and stare at the phone for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

11:10 am Still no return call from Nurse Bertha. Decide to call again. Dial main number and ask for her extension.

Switch board operator: “I’m sorry; Bertha is not at her desk. Please hold while we find her.”

I am on hold for 10 minutes listening to "Best of Burl Ives" on Musak, wondering why I didn’t use the land line to call. I fret about the cell phone minutes being wasted. There are children in Africa who don’t have any cell phone minutes.

11:25 am “Hello, this is Bertha.”

RL: “Bertha, this is Racie Lover. I left you a message this morning. I need to see Dr J immediately. I am having another EPISODE!”

Bertha: “Honey, I just checked my voice mail from this morning. There was no message from you.”

RL: (on verge of psychotic episode) “I left one, I swear. Anyway, I have GOT to see Dr J today. It’s an emergency (I am barely able to whisper this admonition due to my bronchitis. I hope I sound pitiful. I am desperate).

B: “Honey, I don’t have any openings this week or next…”

RL: I interrupt her “No, no, no! I have GOT to see him TODAY…”

B: interrupts me mid-sentence “Oh, I have a cancellation today at 2:45…”


B: “Because I just saw it on my screen. Honey, you’re over-reacting.”

RL: I am incredulous. Do they teach dismissiveness in nursing school? I am ready to reach through the phone, pull out Bertha’s false teeth and cram them up her nose “If you felt like I do you wouldn’t say I’m over-reacting. I will be there at 2:45. Thank you.” I slam down the cover of my cell phone in the absence of a receiver to slam down onto the cradle. I cry and feel sorry for myself, then go shopping online.

2:30 pm Paco takes me to my doctor’s appointment, having been summoned from work by my tearful plea of helplessness. I tell him how horrible Bertha was to me and he must punch her lights out.

We check in at reception and Paco picks up a survey form, intending to write Bertha up for making me cry.

3:25pm: Bertha emerges from the back and calls my name.

Paco: “Is that her?”

RL: “Yes, that’s Bertha. Keep me away from her. I may have to deck her.”

Paco: “Don’t worry, Sweetheart. Bertha’s going down.”

Bertha leads us to an examination room, where we sit while she plays doctor and asks me questions. I pull out my sheet with the various photos I have taken the night before showing my swollen lips, hugely expanded jaws and hives. Bertha studies it carefully, obviously impressed.

Bertha: “Oh geez, Honey, women pay good money to get those big lips you have there. Wow, those are impressive. What do they call that stuff they inject?”

RL: “Collagen”, I offer, deciding neurology nurses must not watch “Nip Tuck”. “Ha, ha, that’s pretty funny, Nurse Bertha. Just think of the money I’m saving on cosmetic surgery!” I want to take her out but am afraid I would look like Meg Ryan in my mug shot, and not in a good way.

Just then Dr J comes in and Bertha vanishes. I tell him about my latest attack and he, too, is impressed with my photo essay. Paco and I plead for answers, the whole time both of us wondering if we should bust Bertha and tell Dr J what a horrible battle ax she is. We decide he already knows that and it is the reason he hired her. She is also uglier than home-made sin, which no-doubt pleases Dr J’s wife.

All of the above ended with Dr J finally telling me my problem is not neurological but some kind of systemic reaction and to go to my allergist. Paco and I leave his office, dejected. I call Dr L, the allergist, and make an appointment to go see her the next day. During my appointment the following day she quizzes me and then tells me to stop taking ibuprofen and call her if my symptoms still return. Allergic to ibuporfen? Who knew? Naturally I Googled it when I got home and what do you know? Apparently this kind of severe allergic reaction is very common.

Perhaps my mystery illness has finally been solved. "Case closed" as Dr. Kildaire would say. I certainly hope so. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Lately there has been a huge kafuffle over Susan Boyle, the plucky came-from-nowhere Scots lady who wowed even Simon Cowell last week on "Britain's Got Talent". Mostly the comments and blogs have been overwhelmingly favorable, with the few dissenting voices apparently coming from embittered, failed Patty Page wannabes and competing spinsters who are worried there is about to be one less of their own amongst them. I actually read a rather scathing post yesterday penned by Nora Ephron that does not bear repeating here (mostly because I think she would not hesitate to sue the pants off of me). I put her in the category of Sour Grapes, someone who has made lots of money dissing various ex-husbands and boyfriends, so I'm not sure I value her opinion much anyway.

The point of all this is that I am in the ranks of those who think Ms Boyle really has some genuine talent and isn't just a one-hit wonder. If you Google her 1999 rendition of "Cry Me a River" I think you will agree with me. I'm no expert, mind you, but I think she can sing pretty darn well and I can't wait for her to publish her first CD.

Unfortunately, most of us tend to judge people by the way they look and not what might be in their hearts, souls or vocal chords just waiting to be freed if given a chance. Haven't we all known someone who didn't quite seem to fit in, but after we got to know them they won us over with their determination, their inner joy, their sense of humor? Years ago I was at my high school prom and found myself talking to a guy that I had known all through school but had never given the time of day to. We ended up talking for close to an hour (I have no idea where my date was) and I saw a side of him that I had no idea existed, purely because I had been so busy judging him by his looks. I ended up having a huge crush on Alan and even though we never went out on a date, we kept in touch for many years, exchanging Christmas cards and chatting at our high school reunions. Years later when he sent me a wedding announcement my first thought was "what a lucky girl".

We should all be so lucky to meet someone like Alan. Or Susan Boyle. Or at least have the privilege of talking to them or hearing them sing and not judge them by their looks. Their heart and soul has always been right in front of us, if we will only take the time to look and listen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


"Dear Diary,
I saw Tiger Woods today at The Masters! Or rather, I saw his golf cap, his shoulders and his profile, sort of. There were approx. 500 spectators who separated me from His Majesty and I don't think even yelling "Fire" or "I just saw President Obama at the concession stand" would have made any difference. But I was closer to greatness than I have ever been, unless you count the time I met Neil Diamond..."

You don’t have to be a golfer or even enjoy or understand golf to appreciate the beauty of Augusta National Golf Club. There is something almost surreal about the intense colors and environment of The Masters, the deep pink azaleas, the intoxicating fragrance of the majestic pine trees, the cloud-like Dogwoods that seem to float above the smooth, rolling greens. No calendar, website or HD TV can ever do it justice. You just have to be there….