Give me five

Alright, I need your help. I know we all have causes we support, and that for many of us things are tighter than they've been in a while, but I'm asking anyway.

Every year there's an event benefitting two really important organizations here in Kansas City. The Fuzzy Fotos contest evenly divides all proceeds between the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, and No More Homeless Pets KC. Please take a look at their pages and click on the About Us links to find out more about what each of them do.

Brett and I, along with Jack and Alex, are excited to compete in this year's event, and we need your votes. Votes are $5 each, and you can do it online from anywhere. The contest begins July 1 at 10am, and runs through the end of the month. Vote for the schnauzers!

Simply click on over to the Fuzzy Fotos website and take a look at our photo. (Always the lounge pup, you'll note Jack reclines while the rest of us sit) We're listed as David Allen & Brett Coonrod. Click on our photo and follow the instructions for voting. Whatever you can give is hugely appreciated.

And finally, one other request: spread the word. I'll be grateful for any mention of the contest anywhere you can. On your blog, via email, over dinner with friends, it's all appreciated. Thank you!

White sangria

*Photo not mine. We drink here, but we rarely garnish like this

Nine times out of ten I'll choose liquor over wine. Except when there's sangria. Rachel served a white one before dinner last time they had us over and it was delicious.

A group of realtors with midtown and downtown listings got together and are having a little homes tour tomorrow night, and we're on it. They were talking about wine and cheese so I offered to make that same white sangria for our realtor to serve. I mixed up a gallon of it tonight, and of course we had to taste it. If there are leftovers tomorrow night I'm not going to mind a bit. Here's the recipe, make multiples for a crowd:

1 bottle white wine (chardonay if you like sweeter, I prefer not so sweet so I used a sauvignon blanc-also, a nine buck bottle is fine here, no need to gold plate it)
1 1/2 cups Triple Sec
3/4 cup Orange Juice
Your choice of chopped fruit
Splash of Fresca

Yes, Fresca. I can hear the purists screaming. So it's not a traditional sangria, it's still tasty and refreshing. I threw in some orange and lime slices, pineapple and melon chunks and a big handful of red grapes.

So hopefully someone will wander in here and pour themselves a glass and think "wow this is good, and this apartment is wonderful - let's make an offer!"

How cool is this?

Do you recognize this man? If you watch the original CSI series, the one that takes place in Las Vegas, you might. The character's name is Ronnie Litre. He's not in every episode, but if the clue is something made of paper, a deck of cards or a printed letter, he'll be the lab tech who processes it.

In real life his name is Eric Stonestreet. Our grandmothers were sisters, so we're second cousins. Growing up I spent many a weekend with Eric and his brother and sister out on their farm, and his sister and I lived together for a bit when we were at KU.

It's been fun to watch Eric's career. He started in Chicago at Second City, then moved to LA. He's not a household name, but I think character actors are always more interesting. He's a working actor, and he makes his living doing what he loves. His mom always lets my mom know if there's something coming up, and Brett and I always try to watch. Most recently he played a murderous chef on an episode of The Mentalist. I loved seeing him as the bad guy, charging at Thomas Jane with a huge knife only to get shot at the last minute.

This fall he's got a lead role on a new series on ABC. Modern Family is a comedy, shot in a documentary style, following three very different families in 2009. One is an older man (Ed O'Neill) and younger woman on their second marriage. The next is your regular mom-and-dad-with-kids family (Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell). The third is Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, above left) and Cameron (Eric!), a gay couple who've just adopted a baby girl from Vietnam.
There's a trailer up on should you be inclined to take a peek. I know I'm biased but it looks like a fun show, and I can't wait to watch my cuz play gay on network tv!

At auction this week

This week is another art and antiques auction at KC Auction Company, and looking through the catalog it appears to be a very nice sale. I'll go even though I'm low on disposable income, you never know when something wonderful might sell cheap. It's still fun to watch even if I'm not buying, and it's always good to see what things are selling for. There are about 325 lots so this is nowhere near a representation of everything, just a few things I saw that I liked.

I could very easily become addicted to dog art. I've not bought any because I'm afraid that once I do I won't be able to stop. For example, love this German Shepherd portrait. (my grandparents had a shepherd when I was little, so I'm partial)

The Springer here is pretty handsome as well.

Black Forest isn't for everyone, and in large part it's not something I've ever been interested in owning. That said, the catalog lists this as a piano stool, but I think it would be great as a little table next to a chair.

I'm a fan of glass if you didn't know, and while this Tiffany Aurene glass bowl with sterling overlay isn't really my taste, I'm looking forward to seeing it in person.

Something from Tiffany that I'd totally enjoy owning is this bronze and slag glass paperclip in the pine needle pattern, marked Tiffany Studios New York. It's 3.75 by 2.5 inches, and the pre-auction online bids are already up to 50 bucks.

There's a number of good mid-century pieces represented as well. We've got plenty of mid-century freaks around here and I never get in the middle of their bid battles, but this Eames Soft Pad chair would be sweet with Brett's antique desk.

And the thing I like most in the whole sale, this dresser and chest. They're Paul McCobb for Calvin, and I love the lines. Brett says (and he's right) that we don't need to worry about new bedroom furniture until we move. Still, these would be great with the upholstered headboard I have in mind, with antique Asian lacquered cabinets as bedside tables. The dresser would be perfect across from the bed with a flat panel tv over it. The chest is a nice size that would fit in easily anywhere. (and should our next bedroom be in that house we love, there's a perfect spot!)

Cousin Max

Brett's folks live in Lawrence. Yesterday's wedding festivities ran late into the evening, and start up again today with a Father's Day brunch, so they got a room up the street at the Residence Inn rather than do all that needless driving. Max, their black schnauzer, got to stay here at our place with Jack and Alex.

Brett's mom prepares all of Max's food herself, using recipes designed for optimal canine health that she's gathered from online sources and groups she belongs to. You pretty much have to be retired to do this successfully, as I learned when Alex had some digestive issues and I had to make him boiled chicken and rice. (although my Kitchen Aid with the grinder attachment was a huge help)

My point being this: While we buy the best quality dog food we can, homemade makes a difference. My boys are handsome and healthy, but Max always looks just slightly better to me. The only real difference in their lives are what they eat. He's trim but solid, with a gorgeous coat that feels just slightly different.

Brett's dad trained Max for obedience trials, and we went and watched a few times when the meet was close to KC. He did very well, but sometimes had a little problem waiting. I watched one trial as Brett's dad gave the first command, and Max proceeded to complete the entire course. A flawless execution, even if he didn't wait for the signals.

He's also a very calm little guy. It's playtime pandemonium when Prada comes to visit, but Max is easy and quiet and way laid-back. A pleasure to keep, I'm looking forward to him coming back!

I owe you

I wrote my letter because I couldn't figure out what to do with my anger, and while the act of writing it helped, it's the response that has gotten me past the whole awful thing.

Thank you, to Decorno for sharing your audience, and to all of you, for the kindness and generosity of your words.

Brett's niece got married in Italy last month, and this weekend is the reception here in Kansas City. The timing is strangely perfect. There's so much good to celebrate if you just look for it, I'm not wasting another second thinking about that hateful woman.

We'll be at the party, and when I hoist my glass and toast the happy couple, in a way I'll be toasting each of you as well.

And I'll be very careful where I park.

An open letter to the woman who's car I injured

What's the use of having a blog if you can't name names, right? I had a little accident on my lunch hour today. So with an enormous sense of indignation and a big gin-and-tonic sweating away next to my laptop, I'm ready to tell Joyce Omer what's on my mind:

Dear Joyce,

I still don't quite know how it happened. I haven't been at fault in an accident since I was 16 (25 years ago!), and I'm generally very good at parallel parking, but it was absolutely my fault. I was too close to your car and turned too soon, yanking the front bumper halfway off your BMW.

I completely understand why you'd be upset, I would be as well, but there are a few things you should know. That Land Rover I was driving? Got it in March, used. Prior to that I was driving a 1999 Blazer with no heat or A/C, an acceleration problem, and a door that often refused to close. So when we were assessing the damage and I mumbled "my car seems to be ok" it really wasn't meant for you. It was, I believe, my mind trying to assure me that I hadn't just fucked up the nicest thing I've ever owned. I didn't expect you to say "oh good." I didn't expect you to say anything really. And that's why when you said "I don't care about your car" I was really caught off guard.

Because of the way I was raised, the next thing I did was apologize. It's what one does when they've damaged someone else's property. Your reply was "I've been hit three times in this car, I'll accept your apology but don't expect me to be nice about it." I guess I didn't really expect you to be warm, but I didn't expect you to be so hateful either. They call them "accidents" for a reason. It's a terrible shame that your pretty little convertable has been hit so many times, but frankly I'm not responsible for the first two and I would think someone of your age (around my mother's age I'm guessing) would understand that.

After apolgizing, we went into the Barkery where I asked them to photocopy my insurance card. I took the paper and I wrote my name, my home address, and my cell phone number. I let you copy down my drivers license information so you could be sure I was being honest. You then threw your business card at me. Again, I'm not expecting you to be grateful, but I didn't have to do any of this. I could have let you do all the writing. (By the way, when I went back into the Barkery to buy the poop bags I forgot, the staff was appalled by the way you acted. If you need something dog related I suggest you try Petco for a while.)

Back outside, I hope you noticed that I stuck around while you checked with the police, again, something I wasn't required to do. When you drove around the block to "see if your car was driveable," I stayed. And when you then decided your car wasn't driveable (and your bumper wasn't dragging, even though you said it was) I stayed while you called the police back, even though I called my boyfriend (a lawyer) who assured me I was free to go.

And finally, when you said you needed my license plate number, do you remember what I did? I went to my car, took out an index card, and wrote my plate number down for you. The way you grabbed it and shoved it in your purse without looking at me was especially nice. In hindsight, given your performance what I should have done was say "then you should write it down before I drive away." But I didn't do that. I wrote it down for you, because I'm a decent man, and I damaged your car, and that's what a decent man does.

I guess that decency is what this entire letter is about. I damaged your car, and I tried to do what was decent and right. You, conversely, decided to be the biggest bitch you could possibly be. I can't think of anything you could have done to be more successful in that endeavor. Well done Madam.

I phoned my insurance company the moment I got back to my office, and they've assured me that you'll be made whole. To be honest, I told them that you were spectacularly mean and that I'd appreciate anything they could do to make the process more painful for you. The claims rep laughed, but I work in commercial insurance and know how this goes, so I'm sure everything will be handled as efficiently as possible and you'll be back on the road in record time.

One last time, let me just say how sorry I am that I crunched your car. But more than that, let me say how sorry I am that you care more for your 325 than you do for showing basic decency to another human being. I drive an expensive car too, and indeed my blog is generally dedicated to the discussion of "things." But in the end, things fail us, and beings are all we truly have. I would have hoped that at this point in your life you'd know that. In that respect I guess that today was more of a tragedy than I originally thought.


Plan ahead

When you're off to pick up a large bookcase someone has hired you to paint, and you have the choice between the 10-foot moving truck or the cargo van, take the truck. Or you'll have to take the bottom cabinet back to the workshop, go back to the rental place and trade the cargo van for the pick-up that (luckily) was just returned, then drive all the way back to the client's house to get the larger piece.

Conversely, being friendly to the rental man may result in him just trading vehicles so you don't have two rental charges, and then when the computer refuses to charge for the second leg's mileage, he'll just say "it's your lucky day" and send you on your way.

A little something for me

Sales have been slow, so I was pretty tight with my bidding at the auction tonight. They sell box lots last now and I don't usually hang around, but I had only bought a couple things to sell and it was only 10pm (not bad actually) so I hung around.

There are huge rolling racks holding the boxes so I poked around as they were finishing up selling furniture. Up on top what do I find laying there among some baseball bats, but this shooting stick.

While you can tell what it's for, I never would have known what it's called, except that Mrs. Blandings posted about one she bought last year. Hers is a bit fancier, leather and bamboo if I remember right, but this one has a certain utilitarian charm. Cast aluminum with a canvas seat, and leather handles aged by time and human hands. Seems like just the sort of thing that would be handy to keep in the back of the Rover, especially for 20 bucks.

At the end of each auction the ringmen collect bidder numbers and throw them all into a box. The number drawn then wins 20 bucks, or what I like to call the endurance award (sometimes this particular auction runs past midnight). I tossed my card in the box and I'll be damned if Jason didn't pull my number. It's like I got my shooting stick for free.

It rained a little today

This was taken in Westport, a kind of entertainment district a few blocks north of the Plaza, where my office is. I was actually at the post office down the road mailing a package on my lunch hour.

Kansas City definitely needs some infrastructure work. Storm drains first I say!

Town & Country II

So we went and looked at the house in Town & Country. I hoped I wouldn't love it, but I did.

The photos make it look bigger than it really is. That front yard is big, make no mistake, but not quite the football field it appears to be. The back and side yards are generous as well, and Brett pointed out the perfect spot for a pool.

The living room, which I thought was likely cavernous and not easily furnished, had a much better scale in person. The giant stone fireplace wall is rough-hewn Tennessee marble, and even better in person. The dining room was the perfect size.

What I was really interested to see were the kitchen and bathrooms which were not pictured in the listing. And as I suspected, there was a reason. The kitchen was probably overhauled in the 80s, and was a sea of bright white tile (walls AND floor) punctuated by mauve Formica. Bathrooms were original, with some interesting tile and some 80s wallpaper.

It's totally a keeper, but not without a list of needs. Beyond kitchen and baths, the original tile ceilings would need to be sheetrocked. And while we're at it we should replace the large recessed lighting with something more discreet. The parquet in the main public spaces and the carpet in the bedroom wing all need replacing. And the shake roof looks like it's on it's last leg.

The owners have moved out, and save for stored clothing and dishes the place is empty. That can often hurt how a house shows, but I liked seeing it empty.

All in all a great place. I bet it's under contract in less than a week.

Town & Country

Sadly I have nothing to report on the sale of Chez Malaise, but there is some fun news from the wild and wooly world of Kansas City area real estate. Just blocks from the antique mall is a subdivision called Town & Country Estates. I think that subdivision names are generally awful, and the word "Estates" usually signifies the worst of the them, but in this case we'll make an exception.
Enormous lots with enormous ranch houses, built mainly in the 50s and 60s. Including this bad boy with the monster lawn built in 1959. We actually went to see this house when it was held open, only to be greeted by a "property under contract, open cancelled" sign when we arrived. It's way out of our price range, and I don't generally like to look at houses I can't afford, but I totally wanted to see this one.

We learned from another realtor that day that the couple who built it was finally selling to enjoy their sunset years in a warmer place. The first offer came from out of town, sight-unseen, from a buyer who wanted to tear it down. Why a realtor would relay that info to a seller I don't know, but the owners were horrified and turned it down. They went to contract with a new buyer in 3 days.

Apparently something went awry because its back on the market and open this Sunday. It needs some tweaking and updated furnishings, but the basics are all there. Big, generous rooms flowing easily into one another, and finishes that remind me of the lounge at my parents country club in the 70s. It would be fabulous to live in.
I worry a little about Town & Country, and this place especially. A few of these mid-century ranches have fallen victim to bad overhauls, stripped of everything that made them interesting and unique, only to end up as the sort of two story monster house you might find in any new development in any new suburb anywhere.
I wish it could be us. But if not, here's hoping the new owners will love the house for what it is, and that that wet bar in the corner fuels loads of parties for years to come.