Remember Bruce? The stain upon my wood floor, and upon my existence? In case you forgot about him, here he is:

photo 1 copy

So, the truth of it? None of the products I tried were able to get rid of Bruce. 

Vet’s Best? Nope. It made some parts a little lighter, but no real impact in the long run.

Urine Erase? (I had the biggest hopes for this one) – NOT AT ALL. Again, some parts got a little lighter. But nothing really useful.

For both of these products, I obsessively followed the directions, so don’t even go there. And trust me, don’t waste your money. I think they are more for stains that have not actually set into the wood. Once the urine is absorbed into the wood, it changes some things chemically, and there is no way to reverse that. Trust me, I tried. 

So, about $100 in products, and many hours of sweat and labor later, I gave up. And called Craig.

Craig is an all around handyman kind of guy. He used to build houses, but now he goes around and helps people renovate. He gets referred by word of mouth. And he stays very busy. Here he is, removing Bruce from my floor.

photo-37 copy 2

With a combination of judicious scraping and sanding, and spot applications of a matching polyurethane, Bruce the stain has been eradicated from my floor. When I finish another coat of polyurethane, you will never be able to tell that he was ever there. Total bill for the effort? $150. And he didn’t only remove Bruce – he also removed the four other stains that were there. And Craig did all the sweating. I did feed him breakfast, though.

Here is my floor, post-Bruce. When I am done blending the poly, he will just be an area that lends a little character to my floor. 

photo-37 copy 3


For the job to be perfect,  I would need to strip the old poly off the whole floor and re-coat it. But for now, this looks pretty darn good.

Hurry up and wait…

Posted: August 11, 2014 in real estate

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering. – Paulo Coelho


Attorney Review. That painful process where you have no way to know what people are thinking, and no way to find out without….waiting. I have come to realize through the process of trying to buy this home that I am NOT as patient as I thought. I am a person of action. If something needs to be done, I do it. Sitting and waiting for someone else to do something is so NOT my forte! This is the age of instant information gratification. If I don’t know something, I can look it up on my phone. Why can I not have instant access to an answer?

I think real estate negotiations should be done face to face. Shout it out, argue it out, whatever you have to do. But at the end, you shake hands, and you have a deal. Doing the negotiation through so many third parties makes it feel so remote and NOT personal. They can’t see how much I love this house, and I can’t see what’s important to them by their response to the discussion.

I need answers! I need to know now – can I have this house, or can I not? Argh!!! 🙂

A bit obsessive, right? OK, I am done whining. Back to….


Meet my dog, Entei. I call her “The Stain-maker”.

photo 1

She’s 13, kind of an old lady in dog terms. Do you like her sporty striped bandana? It was a gift from her groomer. But that’s another, happier story. I digress. Back to business here. As you may be aware, a not uncommon problem for ladies of any breed as they put on some mileage is to have a problem with what I will politely term “leakage”. Entei “leaks”, sometimes, when she is sleeping. I have found a solution for that, which I will discuss another time. Today, now, here…is about stains on the wood floor.

Meet Jax, my cat. I call him “The Stain-Enhancer”

photo 2 copy

And his sister – AKA “No-stain-no-gain”.

jean 8

So, it would start with Entei leaking, and then the cats felt the need to enhance the problem, and well…you get the picture. I have now dealt with that issue by obtaining a lovely, fashionable set of Doggie Diapers. The cycle is broken.

I feel like such an idiot. I kept cleaning the surface of the area rugs, but never thought to check underneath. Yes, I’m an idiot. Let’s move on from that. The result I have to deal with, is stains on the wood floor. Ugh. I am moving soon. This is a rental house. I have to fix the stains.

Have you ever tried to solve this problem? There is tons of advice that you can find out there on the internet. Almost always, the ad, or blog, or post ends with the words “And in the morning, the stain will be gone!”. When it doesn’t end that way, it goes “There is no way to remove the stains. You will have to replace the wood boards and refinish the floor.” Ouch! 

So – I have decided to chronicle my efforts to remove these stains, so if you ever run into the problem, you will have first hand, real advice about what does and does not work. And if, ultimately, I have to replace the floor – well – let’s not go there yet!

There are five stains I need to remove. I have decided to name them after men I have known. Today, I will introduce you to Bruce.

photo 1 copy

Meet Bruce. A major, ugly stain on my existence. He was my first husband, and a mistake from the very beginning. Alcoholic, diagnosed Paranoid-Schizophrenic (which he failed to tell me before we married). I was young. I was stupid. Oh well, you get the picture. He is a memory I would like to erase. Just like this stain. Without it costing me too much money…which it did at the time. But hopefully this won’t. Am I making this all clear?

Actually you are seeing this stain after a couple days of work. It was much worse when I started. But I forgot to take a picture. It was TOTALLY black. Now, each time I try something, I will take a picture, so you can see the result.

Here are the main products I am using so far:

Hydrogen Peroxide

White Vinegar

Vet’s Best Hard Surface Stain and Odor remover

Bruce did not respond at all to multiple applications of Vet’s Best. Here’s a picture of the product:

photo 3

One of my other stains, by the name of Shane, did actually at least get lighter with this product. But more about Shane in another post. We are talking about Bruce here.

The product that was able to take Bruce from a dark, ugly blot to a lighter blot that shows some signs of willingness to cooperate with my removal efforts was – drumroll here – Hydrogen Peroxide. Here’s what I did:

1. Soaked area in Peroxide – kind of just poured it on there.

2. Covered the liquid with plastic bags to hold it on there and let the wood absorb it.

3. Let it soak for 8 hours before removing the bag.

When I removed the bag, the stain was noticeably lighter, and on one board in particular (you can see it on the very right of the stain) was almost completely gone. Clearly there is some difference in the boards here – I’m not sure what that is.

Bruce has not responded to applications of White Vinegar, though various internet boards promised great results with that. So far, nothing.I have other products arriving by mail-order soon…we will see how they work!

My plan is to get all five stains as light as I possible can with various chemical applications, and then to try some AB Bleach on what is left. If that goes well, I will re-stain those sections and then try to spot re-finish them. 

You’ll get to see how it goes! Wish me luck in removing Bruce from my floor, and my existence! 🙂



Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. – Sun Tzu

Buying a home is stressful. Duh. Who doesn’t know that? Selling one is, too. Put stressed out buyers and sellers into the same transaction, and you have…a negotiation? A fight? All out war? It amazes me how quickly negotiations can turn into bitterness and anger. Instead of two parties working together to make a transaction happen that both sides actually DO want to happen, it turns into a battle of one-upmanship. Well, they won’t give me THIS, so I won’t give them THAT. Sheesh.

I know I am an idealist, and a child of the 60’s. I’m into Peace and Love  (with capital letters as you may note) and getting along. Playing nice. If you will work with me, (and sometimes even if you won’t) I will work with you. But push me too hard, and the Xena (remember her?) in me comes out. So don’t make me go there.

In spite of my dread of this process – I am trying to buy a house. The sellers of the house, in this market, with winter coming, were willing to kill the deal over a $50 credit. This house has been vacant for almost a year. And did I mention -winter is coming? So, I gracefully gave in. Clearly this credit was really important to them. And buying this home is really important to me. To me, it wasn’t worth fighting about.

I have a feeling that I will discover, between now and closing on this home, the Art of War. I will need to quickly learn how to break down their resistance to being cooperative without having the transaction fall apart, and without letting them take advantage of me. Because in spite of my best efforts to remain neutral and businesslike, I have fallen for this home. It’s the perfect place for my kids and I. I’m already planning where the furniture will go. Sigh.

Are they playing me? And it is all part of the negotiation process? Are they actually desperate to sell this house, and just don’t want me to know that? We are supposed to close on September 19th. Between now and then – we shall see!

It feels like this is turning into a giant game of “Chicken”!

Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln


This looks a lot like the picture of Jax we found on Petfinder, but it is not him. This cutie, and other kitties, are on the site waiting for adoption. Can you help one of them?

Jean came into our lives by accident. My older son had a dog, but my younger son needed a pet to call his own. So that he could follow his usual pattern and be the opposite of his big brother, my youngest decided that his very own pet should be a cat. Together, we went on Pet and searched for a likely candidate. And, of course, we found the perfect one. His name was Jax, he was at a shelter not too far away, and he was, of course, adorable. The caretaker of the shelter, after clearing us as viable adopters, advised that we adopt a second kitten as well, to provide a playmate and companion for Jax. We asked if she had a suitable kitty available, she said she did, and we were good to go. This other kitten was named Jean.

A date was agreed upon for us to meet and pick up our new family members. At the last second, after all the plans were made, we were told that the second kitty “walked a little funny” but that it was nothing to worry about. A few alarm bells went off in my head, but we were already involved in this process, heart and soul, and so we pushed forward.

The big day came. On certain weekends, this pet rescue group brought potential adoptees to a local pet store. We had agreed to meet up there and collect our kitties. We came, cat carrier in hand, ready to fall in love. We were slightly dismayed to find, when we got there, that we could not hold and cuddle our kittens. They were simply bundled into the cat carrier and handed over to us. Something, some sense of compassion, encouraged my son and I to simply go along with this, and take them home with us. We got the sense that these kittens needed us.

We had a room at home all prepared to receive the kittens, where they would be safe from the pesty dog, and have time to settle in to the rhythm of our house. We got there, placed the cat carrier in a quiet corner, and gave them some space.

What happened then is…a long story. These two kittens were very nearly feral. They were terrified of us. It took days to convince them that it was safe to come out of hiding when we were in the room, and more days before we could even approach them without them bolting for cover. We almost gave up. I called the adoption lady, who admitted she’d expected us to return them within 24 hours. We were horrified, but determined to help them.  We tried not to be angry about this. Clearly this was the last chance for these two lost souls. And oh, I didn’t mention. The second kitty, the one who “walked a little funny”? It turns out that she was extremely disabled, with Cerebellar Hypoplasia. Some of the nerves in her cerebellum had been destroyed, when her pregnant mother was injected with a live distemper vaccine. Both kittens had been the victims of an abusive situation, and eventually dumped on the streets of NYC, where someone found them and turned them into a NYC shelter. They were rescued from the Kill List by the lady who gave them to us. We didn’t find this out until after we got the kitties home, and had to call for advice. In spite of these things, or maybe because of them, we decided to stick it out and hope for the best.

There is a happy ending.  There were thrilling moments, like the first time the kitties let us touch them, the first time they came up to us of their own free will, the first time we heard a purr…within a month, we had won them over.

So, it took a lot of explaining to get to this point, but really, I wanted to tell you about Jean. Jean is our handicapped kitty. But strangely enough, Jean does not know she is handicapped. Someone has commented, after watching her, that it is like she has two different brains, one for her front end, and one for her back end. This makes it very difficult for her to jump and run, and when she walks,she has a rolling gait, kind of like a sailor. But she never acknowledges her problems. If she needs to jump, by golly, she jumps. She has developed a funny sort of leap, with all four legs at the same time, which gets her as high as she can, and she then uses her claws to pull herself the rest of the way. And she is happy. She is the happiest, sweetest cat I have ever met. She accepts herself for who she is, and lets nothing stop her from getting to where she needs to go. We love her so much, and she loves us right back. She knows her name, and comes running when she is called.

So, you may think we were crazy to accept this handicapped cat, that in the long run, she will only bring us heartbreak. But she has brought so much love and joy into our lives, that words cannot even express it. We would not trade her for the world. So -I’m not sure what I am trying to say, except that sometimes you need to follow your heart, and not be afraid to bring someone differently abled into your home. Jax is easy to love, and gets more than his fair share of snuggles. But we have not once regretted having Jeannie with us. She brings a light into our lives that we would never have known without her.

A couple of questions to ponder – I have no real answers, but I am pondering –

1. Was the rescue group justified in being dishonest with me about the true condition of the two kittens I adopted? Should they have been honest about how not just emotionally damaged they were (nearly feral in their absolute terror of humans) but also physically/neurologically damaged?

2. If they had been more honest, would they have had any chance of getting someone to adopt these kittens?

3. Is it OK to be dishonest, if it gives you even a small chance of finding a poor creature a home?

4. If they had been honest, would I have been brave enough to adopt these kittens? Honestly, probably not. But look how well it turned out. Do the ends justify the means in this case?


Both Jean and Jax are in there…it took days before they would come out of there when we were in the room!

jean 8

It takes some effort, but Jean can climb in here all by herself.


Certified couch potato after 1 month with us.


As proud as if she scaled Mt Everest – to her, it kind of is!


My oldest decided to do some fund raising for the rescue group – here he is, playing with the kitties after having brought a load of supplies for them…

jean 3

Playful and affectionate – our dear friend and family member Jax!

English: Morannon, the Black Gate of Mordor Če...

English: Morannon, the Black Gate of Mordor Česky: Morannon, Černá brána Mordoru (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boromir: None of us should wander alone, you least of all. Frodo? I know you suffer, I see it day by day. Are you sure you do not suffer needlessly? There are other ways, Frodo, other paths we might take.
Frodo: I know what you would say, and it would seem like wisdom, but for the warning in my heart.

This is kind  of dicey territory for me. I am not a confronter. I tend to want to trust that people will do the things they are supposed to do. When they don’t, I take the load on myself, rather than demand that they pick up the ball. I am slowly coming to the realization that this may not be the best survival strategy.

Ex and I had an agreement for child support, which we had arrived at very amicably. There is no legal enforcement in place -yet. We agreed to be adults, civilized, remain friends, all that…and to trust each other to do the right thing. So, last month, he gave me less money than he had agreed to, and I let it go. This month, he has given me nothing at all. Now, I could just suck it up. I have a job. I have a little bit of savings put by for an emergency. But no. I will not do that. For the last fifteen years I have picked up the slack, compensated when things did not get done, solved problems, kept things running. I’m so tired of having to be the one who faces things, who doesn’t let molehills add up until they are mountains. It’s time to take a stand.

But, I feel like I must use caution. One does not simply walk into Mordor. If I get too aggressive, put my foot down too loudly, is it possible I will undo all the good things we’ve accomplished? Wind up with a messy divorce instead of a calm, rational one? How can I broach the topic of financial responsibility in a gentle yet firm way?

I don’t know, for sure. But I do know that I can’t stay silent on this one. If I have learned anything from this divorce, it is that things can’t be put off and not faced. Mount Doom must be scaled while I still have the resolve to do it. Facing uncomfortable things head on is hard, but best. So, I will walk into Mordor. But cautiously.

Greek letters used in mathematics, science, an...

Greek letters used in mathematics, science, and engineering (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Men and women belong to different species, and communication between them is a science still in its infancy.

~Bill Cosby


I am traveling to Greece this summer with not only my two teenage sons, but also a dear friend who I have known for years (who is displaying incredible bravery and fortitude by being willing to travel with two teenagers he is not even related to). We’ve been friends for a long time, and in the way of good friends, will sometimes say sweet things to each other. Oh come on. Guys don’t do that with each other? Seriously? Even in the emails they don’t show to girls? Oh well, this guy friend of mine and I will sometimes say sweet things to each other. Perhaps on his part, it is a relationship survival strategy…how to stay friends with a woman…something like that. But I digress.

So anyway. It was New Year’s Eve, and in my sweet way, I wished him a Happy New Year in Greek. Καλή Χρονιά!! Nice, right? We are traveling to Greece, we sometimes banter about with phrases in different languages, it was kind of cute, admit it. So, the email I received back, went something like this. “Happy New Year to you, Font Maven!” Font Maven? What language is that? Does it mean something like “Dear One”? Of course, I went straight to Google Translate to figure out what language it was. It sounded kind of French. I put it in the translator. Nothing. It kept coming out the other end as Font Maven, and insisted that the language detected was English. WTF?

Of course, you have already seen my folly. Chalk it up to having polished off perhaps a bit too much wine the evening before. Of course, the words meant exactly what they said. Font Maven. I am a font maven for having been able to figure out how to type with Greek letters. Awww. That’s so sweet!

And  there, my fellow fónts mavéns, you have the difference between men and women, in a nùtshell.

dog dance

dog dance (Photo credit: hrlndspnks)

“Life is trouble, only death is not; to be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”

Alexis Zorba

This world frightens me. I worry about where we are going as a species. With a hierarchical nature such as ours, where we can never perceive ourselves as truly equal, but must always see someone else as either superior or inferior, I fear for our future. Although many of us have a utopian vision of harmony and peace, really, we are a warlike people. If you won’t give me what I want, I will take it from you, either by act of war, or corporate takeover. It’s just who we are. Those who try to find an alternate path are labeled as socialists, or worse. (!)  How long will it be before we destroy ourselves? One really serious nuclear event is all it would take, if rampant disregard for our environment  doesn’t get us first.

So what is my logical, rational response to this state of constant angst? With people losing their homes, their children, their lives? With vital governmental decisions thwarted by the posturing of self serving political groups?

I have to dance. There is no other sane response, and no other response that will help me to remain sane. Zorba, in the iconic movie/book “Zorba the Greek”, describes his own response to sorrow. He reveals that, when his son died, he was unable to express the incredible sorrow he felt and began to dance. Those around him believed he had lost his mind, but it was the only way to alleviate his pain.

There are other famous movie scenes where the hero’s response to pain, grief, inner turmoil, or the simple vagaries of life is to dance. Remember Dances with Wolves, where John Dunbar responds to his circumstances with a wild, primitive dance around his solitary bonfire?  How about Tevye, in Fiddler on the Roof? And didn’t you feel what they were feeling, and want to dance, too?

Yes, we have to fight for our beliefs, try to change the path the world is on. But we can’t be afraid, like Zorba’s friend and boss, Basil, after having put in a hard day’s work,to let go of our fears and live. We must do as Zorba did, and undo our belts and look for trouble.  So my resolution for this New Year – to embrace life, and choose, even when it seems crazy, to dance.

Καλή Χρονιά!!

Greek to Me (2)

Greek to Me (2) (Photo credit: Kim Scarborough)

“…but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me. ”

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar – William Shakespeare

From that moment, I did not cease to pray to God that by his grace it might one day be permitted to me to learn Greek.
Heinrich Schliemann

I speak Greek to my children all the time. No, not the literal language of the Greeks. But nonetheless, the language I use with my two sons is clearly, and apparently quite often, incomprehensible to them. The words reach their ears, I am sure of that. They hear them, but the most puzzled look comes into their eyes, as it did for me when trying to comprehend, just by listening, the difference between άνθρωπος (the man) and αυτός (he). Within the context of a short sentence, the meaning and usage is not always clear.

So, a simple phrase uttered to my 14 year old  such as “You should really work on your math project today, and not put it off until tomorrow.” meets with a look of utter incomprehension. It has no context to him. He hears the rhythm of the words, they have a familiar sound, but there is no correlation that helps them connect to anything in his brain. Even if I say it really loudly. He will simply nod his head as if he understands, and then go off and do something else, all the while wondering why I can’t say something to him that makes sense. Here’s a tougher one. “You really need to clean up your room. It looks like a pigsty.” Somehow, although these words make great sense to me, they often seem to translate into “Why don’t you go ahead and spend a few hours playing games on your computer?”

I don’t know. Instead of taking up the study of Greek, perhaps I should take a course in elementary English. Clearly I have gotten it wrong, somewhere along the way.

diplomacy: end of game

diplomacy: end of game (Photo credit: gorgeoux)

Divorce: a resumption of diplomatic relations and rectification of boundaries.
Ambrose Bierce

So. We’ve been separated for a year and a half, officially living in separate houses, talked about most if not all of the things divorcing parents need to talk about. He travels 3 weeks out of 4, so custody wasn’t a huge struggle, we did what made sense. But then the holidays came along, he’s been in town for a few weeks, and all of a sudden I see we are back to the old patterns. Not respecting my boundaries, assuming he is invited for dinner, taking over my holiday plans, all in the name of spending time as a family. But wait, I spent so much time and emotional pain finally putting some boundaries in place! Where did they go? Why do I have to be the mean one and keep enforcing them? Sometimes it would be so easy to just slide back into the old ways and let him take over my life again….NO!!!!!! I have worked so hard for my freedom. I will fight to keep it. I will have to patrol these borders constantly to make sure small encroachments do not encourage larger ones, that my easy going ways do not make it seem that encroachments are welcome. I’ve never agreed with the idea that “good walls make good neighbors.” But in some kind of relationships, I guess they are necessary. That it does not come naturally to me to enforce them is perhaps part of my problem with relationships.