Friday, June 26, 2009

Summit Restoration's Grand Re-Opening

A newcomer to Las Vegas might think that the desert's dry environment protects our homes from mold. Heck, I'm not even a newcomer, and I was surprised to learn that only a few days of untreated water damage can result in mold growth. If my nephews didn't own and operate Summit Restoration, I might still be in the dark about water damage, smoke and fire damage, and (of course) mold damage.

A couple of weeks ago, Summit held an open house after they relocated into a new building at 5032 W. Post Road. They're IICRC certified (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification), and so Summit is pretty persnickety about keeping current on industry practices and standards. Since it's a locally owned and operated business, you can always talk to a person when you call. And, just as a side note, I've never seen such a spotless warehouse.

Extra-Budget Shopping Never Looked So Good

Two weeks ago, the Salvation Army's thrift store at 4196 S. Durango held its grand re-opening. Don't call them a thrift store anymore--their face lift included a catchier name, "Sally's Boutique." They've remodeled, and they've done a fantastic job. The furniture section was full of great finds. In the toy section, my son was thrilled to find a rock tumbler for $3.00. The back wall near the kitchen section was fully stocked with brand-new kitchen implements in unopened, original packaging. I picked up a new potato peeler for $1.00. If you're looking on great deals on clothes and furniture, stop by Sally's Boutique and look around. Proceeds from the store go toward the Salvation Army's programs to help people in need.
Picture by T. H. Meeks

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Peccole Ranch Turf Conversion: Beautiful Common Sense

Las Vegas has been criticized over the years as a water-wasting community, and with good reason. For many years, our community landscaped like we were in Minnesota instead of the Mojave Desert; beautiful, green golf courses and water-hungry residential areas like The Lakes and Peccole Ranch. With the arrival of a prolonged drought, things are starting to look a little different around here.

Peccole Ranch has contracted with Par 3 Landscaping to begin converting turf in some of its common areas. The top two pictures are an area that has been converted to xeriscape. The bottom two pictures (at the end of the post) are an old original section of "greenbelt" just across the street from the new, water-friendly area. Last year during summer, Peccole paid $75,000.00 a month for water--yes, seventy-five thousand dollars, you read that correctly.

Turf conversion makes good sense, both monetarily and environmentally. As you can see, the converted areas are very pretty. The Peccole HOA made a wise decision in the face of increasing water rates and decreasing water availability. They're also taking advantage of the Water District's rebate program, which offers extra incentive to embrace more desert-appropriate landscape. The only drawback I noticed about the converted area was a significant temperature difference between it and the turf-heavy area, but we are in the desert, after all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It’s Mater Time

Fresh tomatoes from the garden are one of the best things about summer. Last year, our garden went south due to neglect, but this year my hubby took over. Here's his first ripe beefsteak tomato, right before we ate it.

If you like to garden, tomatoes are a sure bet, even here in Las Vegas. Just remember to shade your plants from the most intense afternoon sun. Cherry tomatoes are the easiest to grow; it’s not uncommon to get a second crop of them in the fall. The larger varieties tend to split—they’re still tasty, just not so pretty. And be on the lookout for those well-camouflaged tomato worms/caterpillars. We captured one for observation.

You can visit a large Las Vegas vegetable garden at Gilcrease Orchard, at the corner of Tenaya and Whispering Sands Drive, in the northwest portion of the valley. Visitors pay $3.00 to drive in and pick their own vegetables and fruit.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Kid-Friendly Vegas in the Summer

A Las Vegas parent faces two dilemmas in summer. First, there’s the universal parental question that arises when a child is out of school for any extended length of time: “What the heck am I going to do with this kid?” Second, in the summertime heat of the Las Vegas desert, a parent has to come up with inside things to do. Outside activities are not always an option. Not unless you’re checking to see if you can fry eggs on the cement.

Make sure you have plenty of indoor activities on hand, but get out once in a while or you'll get cabin fever, Las Vegas style. If you’re looking for things to do, a little homework will uncover plenty of kid-friendly activities that involve air conditioning. Click on over to for ideas, and be sure to check the Friday Review Journal. The Clark County Library District also hosts a variety of programs, most of them free. Of course, be sure to browse through my blog for ideas!

Visit outside destinations early in the morning or late in the day—after dark if it’s very hot. There’s a reason most desert animals are nocturnal. Pack a picnic dinner and make the drive to Spring Mountain Ranch for Super Summer Theater; this month it's "The Buddy Holly Story," next month, "West Side Story." Visit indoor attractions, like museums. I recommend the Atomic Testing Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Lied Children’s Discovery Museum, The Springs, and the Nevada State Museum in Lorenzi Park. If you’ve got a plump budget, check out some of the Strip’s attractions: Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef, Circus-Circus’s Adventuredome, or Luxor’s Bodies: The Exhibit.
Picture: My photo taken at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Old Mormon Fort Hosting Pioneer Breakfast June 13, 2009

Looking for some family-friendly Las Vegas activities? Visit the Old Mormon Fort, which is located in downtown Las Vegas's Cultural Corridor. Here you'll find the oldest non-native building in Nevada. On Saturday, June 13, the Fort is hosting a Pioneer Breakfast to commemorate the Mormon pioneers' arrival in the Las Vegas Valley. The breakfast will be held from 7:30 a.m. through 10:00 a.m., and there is $5.00 charge per family. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Fort, the non-profit group that supports the Old Fort State Park programs and special events.
Picture information: My photographs taken on the grounds of the Old Fort.

The Interview

Times being what they are, I decided it would be a good idea to look into getting a part-time job. The Las Vegas recession-depression has hit most people I know really hard. My household is no exception. My husband’s construction-dependent trucking business has fallen to levels unlike anything we’ve previously seen. I’ve been self-employed as a writer for eight years, but freelancing can be unstable—and that was true even before so many publications started going out of business. When I saw a CraigsList ad for an evening or weekend receptionist at a retirement community, I applied. I manned a front desk for over ten years when I worked for Metro (and managed front counters and offices for another five years), and a great deal of my work as a freelancer is done on the phone. My writing group is composed of senior citizens, and I’ve been meeting with them once a week for seven years. I felt completely qualified for this job.

I know that to many people, “freelance writer” is synonymous with “creatively unemployed,” or to paraphrase one writer I heard speak, “another mother with a computer.” That’s why in addition to filling out an application, I’d also attached a resume and cover letter about what I’d been doing for the past eight years, with a specifics about my writing business. I’m not sure what the woman who interviewed me thought, but I got the impression she didn’t quite believe I’d written articles and press releases, despite my attachments. She asked me perfunctory questions about my writing, skimming over the first page of my application with a puzzled look and a disbelieving tone to her questions. She asked not a single question about my decades with the police department. She went all the way back to my college education. I last attended college in about 1992, 17 years ago. In my adult life after 21, I’ve had two employers: the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and myself. I thought I was a pretty stable-looking candidate. Of course, if she thought I was lying, that surely eroded the pleasant, experienced image I was hoping to convey.

“So, I see you were a Communications major. What happened there?” I was a bit taken aback by her question. We were going to discuss why I left college almost 20 years ago? What was next, questions about high school? Had she honestly not noticed all those years working for the police department? Perhaps she didn’t believe that, either. I told her that during my last year of college I was caring for an elderly parent and working full time, which had changed my priorities. She asked why I left my last job, and I told her it was to have work that was more flexible, since I’d had a small child at home (given that I was a Communications major, I thought it was obvious why I chose freelance writing). She looked at me disapprovingly, perhaps disbelievingly, kind of like I had just said that I left my last job to join the circus as a fire eater.

“Do you have any experience working with seniors other than your writing group?”

Other than leading a once-a-week writing group for seniors for the past seven years, which included helping three of them write books? Seriously? I smiled and politely said, “That would be the bulk of my experience.”

She had a lot to say about the importance of professional appearance, so much so that I wondered if I had something hanging out that I didn’t know about. The interviewee ahead of me had been wearing a denim skirt and hooker heels, and I was wearing a navy blue suit and white blouse. I thought I did look professional. Maybe Ms. Interviewer assumed that when I wasn’t out trying to deceive innocent retirement home directors, I wore Daisy Dukes and neglected to brush my hair.

I was doing my utmost to be honest, and since things seemed to be going so oddly (okay, badly), I freely admitted that it had been awhile since I’d been on a job interview. “My skills are a little rusty, I’m sure,” I admitted.

“The most important thing is to be yourself,” she said. Who else did she think I was being? That seemed to be the crux of the problem. Maybe she thought I was dishonest, or perhaps over-qualified, but whatever it was, I didn’t get a second interview.

The interviewer told me she had over 60 applications for her two positions, one full-time and one part-time. Apparently, I’m not the only Las Vegan out there looking for a little more stability these day.
Image courtesy of Sundeip Arora at