Monday, December 31, 2007
Just the usual stuff goin' on in the household and the month was remarkable only by how un-remarkable it was. I'm just saying. Boring stuff: minor amount of baking; Christmas cards (try workin' off a list that I did not get updated at the end of the holidays for 2006); and so on.
We spent Christmas Day afternoon at the home of Leroy and Pat. Leroy is a really great guy and so is his wife Pat. Second marriage/alliance for both of them. Their daughters are all grown now - 3 are Leroy's and 2 are Pat's (or is it the other way around?). Leroy is full-time employed and does interior painting on the side. He is a super-great painter, hard worker and just digs in and gets his job done. He does the base coat painting for our faux jobs and believe me, we are so glad to have him work with us. He leaves a client's home neater and cleaner than when he started, which is how we like to do things, too. I marvel at how he is able to do the cut-in work without taping or using an edge. This is why we use him to paint and do not do that ourselves. Clients like to use him on other rooms (not the faux-ed ones), too.
Leroy and Pat are black and we are not (yeah, I think Drummer's pic is next to the definition of Caucasian in the dictionary). It was so nice for them to invite us over. They just cook up a whole mess of food, and their kids drop in during the day for a bit, munch on whatever, and visit with whoever happens to be there. Plus some friends of their daughters', too - coupla young guys who are more like brothers to the girls, than former neighbors. Pat and her sisters did the cooking and some of the baking (but a coupla pies did have Sam's labels on them!). Two big ol' pots (and I mean BIG) of gumbo - one of my favorite dishes in this neck of the woods. It was actually such a mild version that Drummer was able to eat some! Me - I like mine spicier, but it was still dee-lish. Our contribution was a bottle of Bailey's (actually it's a knock-off which was less expensive and just as tasty). If we ever gather at their house again, I can contribute some food - I definitely could do some cookies or think of a Yankee-type dish that someone might like? Leroy was also deep-frying a mess of fish out in his deep-fry cooker outside. I think we tried most of the meat or fish stuff, plus nibbled at the dessert.
When we left, they insisted that we take leftovers home. Their kids had supplied some take-out boxes (from Sam's - the kind with 3 separated pockets and a fold-over top), so we took some turkey and rice and chicken wings, some dessert, and a bowl of gumbo too. And then Drummer got sick and I was eating OUR leftovers, plus trying to keep THEIR leftovers in a still-edible state. After 2 meals of salmon (which should have been one meal, to feed 2), I had to throw the rest of the salmon out. I can only be so healthy, even if it is much-beloved grilled salmon (one of our leftovers).
Drummer, meantime, was doing all that he could to keep his meals in his digestive tract, long enough to be absorbed and light enough to keep him from ralphing up the contents. So we did the sick-tummy drill: Wednesday: ginger ale and soda crackers; then to broth and more soda crackers; then Thursday: Campbell's chicken noodle soup (and those damn crackers again). I finally had hope when he finished half of a baked potato on Friday night. Which was good, because we had 2 places to be on Saturday: a 75th birthday party for a lady from church, plus a wedding reception for a couple who got married a month or two before that.
So all's well that ends well. Drummer is well and I think he didn't pass it on to me. I was trying to be so careful with hand-washing and so on, and I hope that paid off.
Catch up with y'all in 2008!
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thanksgiving came and went. Not too exciting for us, but it revolved around food, so that kinda made me happy. Cooking and baking - two things I do pretty well. The only complaints ever heard are from me, when I think I coulda/shoulda done something a little different. But I refine recipes and so on...
Anyway, I brined a turkey for the first time this year. I had come across the method on the internet and in a coupla blogs. Basically (if you don't know - and if you even care about it) you dissolve a buncha salt in water. You can add other stuff, too - I added brown sugar and some herbs. The water should be room temperature when you immerse the turkey in it, so you should probably heat up a small portion of the water, dissolve the salt (and sugar if adding it), then combine the rest of the herbs plus some colder water. I used about a gallon of water. I really don't add salt, so this was a big experiment on my part. You have to keep the bird refrigerated, so that either means giving up your refrigerator (like that could happen just before T'giving) or using a cooler (my choice). I used 2 of those oven-roasting bags, turkey-size, and plopped the bird in the doubled-up bags, with the legs facing the top. Then poured the water in, including in the cavity. Closed up the bag, made sure there was lots of ice in the cooler, and closed up shop for the night.
Man - it was an excellent, tasty, juicy bird. Not.Salty.At.All Best ever (by me) and I will definitely do it again. Woo-hoo! And the bird was done in less than 2/3 of the estimated cooking time. We had to scramble to get the rest of the food ready while the bird cooled its bronzed goodness on the cutting board, and we drooled in anticpation.
Enough about food. Well, maybe not.
We are having salmon for dinner tonight. And it is fresh, not that ol' "previously frozen" crap that you usually see at this time of year (or at least more frequently than I would like to see). I am always ready to try another salmon recipe and I found a good one recently. It's a stove-top recipe, so that works when it is too hot to use the oven here in steamy Houston, plus we don't have to crank up the grill, either. The salmon is mostly seared and then cooked to a bit opaque. The sauce makes it: combo of light mayo, cilantro, lime juice, wasabi paste and ginerroot. Mmmmmm... Drummer and I are sushi fans and, by extension, love wasabi (in little doses), too.
Kinda funny. When I was graduating high school, there was an award for a senior girl, titled the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award. I was a test-taker back then - if it was in written form, I could usually do okay. And I got that award. So maybe I felt obligated to grow into it? Although (the older I get) I think my body wants to take that "grow into it" idea literally. Arggghhhh....
Time to end this foray.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
And then - while in a conversation with my Car Pooler this morning - I recalled this item from years ago. Since Halloween just recently passed, it was a timely event to remember. So here it is...
In a past life with Hubby #1, we had a fun circle of friends. Most Halloweens, someone hosted a costume party. Now, you could attend while wearing street clothes, but costumes were definitely more fun to do. Keep in mind that we were a lot younger then (our 20's) and had the time (and energy) to put into thinking these costumes through. We had good resources, too - a place called Rag Stock which sold recycled clothes CHEAP. I remember various items that I found there, over the years: a tall (think Drum Major) high-school-band-style hat, football pants that had probably been worn by a junior-high age male, a suede vest with some sort of Indian (okay, Native American) deal-y on the back... Okay, I admit that I didn’t purchase the band hat, but the other two items were used by myself or a date/spouse.
My Ex worked for an international agriculture-based company, which had other divisions, including Restaurant and Fast Food, where he was employed in the accounting department with one of the chain restaurants, whose primary products were doughnuts and coffee. In the 70's it was Dunkin Donuts or Mister Donut. Period. Okay - and in Canada, Tim Hortons. Starbucks and Caribou and the infinite selections that those chains fostered were probably not even being thought of yet.
So during the time of the annual Costume Party and Any Excuse to Get Wasted, we had a Corporate Guy in town. This guy worked the openings of new donut shops - came in, oversaw the setting up, etc. Gave it the corporate blessing, so to speak. Ex mentioned the costume party, and this guy was Game On! He improvised his costume, since he had baking duds available, including a Pillsbury Doughboy-ish style hat. So we picked him up and toted him to the party at someone’s home in the ‘burbs. We were all enjoying ourselves, and the Corporate Guy was doing well on his own, mixin’ and minglin’. Well, came time to go home, and CG decided to stay. In fact, he eventually left with some young chiclet.
The following day the Ex was talking with CG, and keep in mind that CG was married. Apparently CG got both lucky and unlucky the previous night. Had a wonderful romp in the hay with the chiclet, but had the scratched-up back to take home as a souvenir to his Beloved. Young chiclet was obviously a lusty and demonstrative wench! He had to have a cover story to use as an excuse - aha! A baking rack had fallen on him, he had decided. Never did find out if the lie worked for him.
And the moral of the story is: Be careful what crosses your path on Halloween - black cats are not the only things to fear.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Which explains why my found roses made my Sunday. We did our usual after-church deal – breakfast at Denny’s with two other couples. Drummer parked the Subaru and as we climbed out of the vehicle, he noticed and remarked about what looked to be blooms atop this hedge bordering the parking lot. We have these same hedges at the front of our house, and they will sometimes have small white flowers on their new growth - but these were red. I took a few steps closer and discovered that they were roses - about a dozen long-stemmed red ones. I picked one up and it was predictably limp. Probably had
In the car, I carried the flowers away from my clothing (thorns, after all), then laid them on the kitchen counter when we got home. Snipped off about 1 – 2“ from each stem, put water in a vase, dumped in some plant food. Turned out there were 18 roses – 12 red and 6 pink, and all so healthy, except for the overnight neglect. Then we left for a coupla hours to run weekends. We returned to 18 beautiful, perky blooms.
Why were these lovely, probably costly roses dumped so unceremoniously, and why at Denny’s? (1) By a guy who was stood up? (maybe he deserved it, if they were found in a Denny’s lot!); or (2) By an intended recipient - flowers offered as an apology, and it was a case of too little, too late, in her opinion – “You can stick these flowers where the sun don’t shine”.
Or build your own story. Here’s mine: Back in my between-marriages, rompin’, stompin’ life, something similar happened to me. Among the girls (a cluster of us divorcees in our early 30’s, who hung out together), Friday night was Girls’ Night. My Boyfriend-at-that-time had been told that. The Girls had a round of bars/clubs that we went to, always ending up back in the Bloomington area, close to where most of us lived. The objective was having fun, not pickin’ up guys. Well, pretty soon he picked up on our pattern, and started showing up at the end-of-night spots. So then I knew The Talk was necessary. I set him down and gave him one of those “maybe we should give this a break” talks. Truth was, he obviously had stronger feelings for me than I was ready to reciprocate. An okay guy, but a little cloying. I did not need to see him on both Friday and Saturday, and I could see that he was not on that same plan. When I finished The Talk, he got big tears in his eyes, but agreed to let things cool off. And the very next day, he sent flowers to my job! I was so pissed that I took them to a bar after work and gave them away by handfuls to anyone who would take them. I think this is where my appreciation of flowers ended. True story, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
By the way, it’s Wednesday and the Free Roses are starting to wilt a bit. But doin’ okay, for the price!
Monday, October 1, 2007
Saturday was one of those rare days in Houston, beautiful, low temps (maybe in the 80's) and that nice LOW humidity that we don't get very frequently here in the Gulf area. So I went for a walk. Being the cautious sort, I looked over my shoulder for oncoming traffic before crossing the street. Bad move on my part. I tripped where one slab of the sidewalk has heaved itself out of horizontal alignment with its brothers and sisters. I went in one direction and my glasses went flying off my face in the other. I picked myself up, then noticed that my baby finger had a 90-degree bent to right. Damn! A trip to the emergency room, I just knew it. I was less than a block from home, so I headed back to the front door. I thought I had broken my finger, and as I stood on the front porch ringing the doorbell, I cupped my hand under my chin, which had started to bleed - see my t-shirt and capris, if you need confirmation of that.
Poor Drummer! He was flustered but controlled enough that he took 2 very wise actions: he told me take my wedding ring off before that finger swelled, too - and he grabbed a hand towel and filled it with ice, handing it to me to place under the paper towels which I'd grabbed to catch the blood under my chin. Then we got in the car and headed for the nearest hospital. About 20 minutes later, we arrived at the emergency room. Filled in the paperwork, signed 'em. About 30 minutes after arrival, they showed us into a room where a very nice p.a. (physicians' assistant) attended to me. Usual stuff - culminated in x-rays, novocain injections into the finger and the chin, stitches in the chin, re-setting of the finger, and a tentanous shot. And 2 hours later (about 1 pm) we headed for sandwich shop for lunch.
I opted to not change my clothes - for time-saving purposes, and after all, we were both starved. And I secretly enjoyed those surreptitious glances - what happened to you?
It's now 2 days later. The throbbing in my finger is so painful that it wakes me up after only a few hours each night. I am seeing my primary care this afternoon so that he can evaluate me and see if I need further followup or anything. Following 2 nights of poor-to-no-sleep, I am ready to just heal.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Let's see. We had dinner with Drummer and Bro's step-sister and her husband. No, she isn't really a step-sister. But what do you call someone when her mother married the brothers' dad late in life? Anyway... we got together to discuss our feelings and options, where the parents are concerned. Step-mom was recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had a pacemaker implanted just after we met for dinner. Both parents have trusts, and have provided us with copies of those (finally!). They are keeping their funds separate, mingling enough for living expenses. Drummer's dad has Alzheimer's and dad's wife is insistent on caring for him herself, at home (they live in the Phoenix area). Dad's been in a home which cares for patients with his status while his wife is recuperating - step-mom wants to bring him home as soon as possible, and she is now recovering strength, so it is probably going to happen.
We had agreed on a Plan B action (getting them both to Wisconsin, near family and possible intervention/care when needed). This is probably not going to happen, now that step-mom is feeling better. But I think it is a good option that we can leave open. It was good to meet one of her daughters - we had previously met one of her sons - and to get the "skinny" on step-mom's sense of obligation for caring for family members over the decades. One determined lady, with a strong history of doing this sort of thing.
Finally squeezed in a few hours at one of long-time girlfriends (guess that would qualify for a BFF, in text-messaging jargon) on Saturday afternoon. And saw Drummer's long-time friend Billy (he of the professional musician's lifestyle, and doing well financially). And then we headed up to Duluth on Sunday.
Strange to be "up north" and NOT be staying in the home I grew up in. I didn't even drive by the ol' homestead. Mom closed on the house in June and is temporarily staying with my sis. She'll be moving into the senior apts in my li'l hometown in about a week. Both she AND my sis are so ready to NOT be living together any longer. Sis did a good job of gritting her teeth through these co-living months - and I know it was not easy for Mom, either. They will both be happier in probably 7 days or less.
I tried to help in ways that I could. I cooked a meal that MOST of us liked - sorry, sis, about the mushrooms! But at least they were big enough for you to pick out. For some reason, Mom does not want to use sis's washer/drier, so Mom asked me to do a load of laundry for her. Sis and I have discussed why Mom will NOT do laundry at her house - and came up with the only logical response: damned if WE know why!
Friday one of sis's cats had to be put to sleep. She was 16 and had just recently started having "accidents". And sis said she was down to about 5 pounds, from 10. Sis left work early and I went with her to the vet's clinic. The guy was really nice and basically said that Puff was was in kidney failure. So sis decided to have her euthanized. Poor kitty. She was the one that the family referred to as the "lap slut" - she's go to anyone who would pet her. With this current visit, I was always available and the little beggar knew it, too. Sad to have to have this done - but sis had noticed that she had recently not been eating, also, and it was the humane choice. But still hard, especially when she has been a family member for so many years.
Mom turned 80 on 15 Sept. She only wanted to go out to a local restaurant, which was within walking distance of my sister's house. So that's what we did. My sister's oldest son was up from the Cities with his wife and 2 boys, and he picked up the tab. Thanks, nephew! Sis provided the recipe for a cake and icing, which I made for Mom. When we got back to the house, we lit one candle and Mom blew it out - twice. I had to have a re-enactment, for my photo. My Duluth cousins sent a lovely bouquet to her, and nephew and wife gave her a nice gift, too. Sis and I decided to give her cash toward things for her new home. Mom was pretty content with the whole "fuss" and then Drummer and I headed to Hinckley for lodging. Nephew and his family "bumped" us from our free lodging (offspring outranks siblings - and I do understand), so we went to Hinckley for Friday and Saturday.
We said our good-byes, since we were hitting the road early on Sunday morning for our return to Houston. And by late afternoon on Monday after 2 more days of driving, we were home again, home again. Nothin' left to show for it all except laundry, bills, some digital photos and a few extra pounds.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Enough time had elapsed that the large chunks of concrete had been removed from the river (the Mississippi, for those of you asking What river?). I was told that they were moved to a location downstream for analysis or whatever the Powers That Be will do with them. Portions of the collapsed pavement still were on the riverbanks, and huge portions of twisted metal were still in the river itself.
Folks, it was so sobering to see in person. We had seen a lot of news coverage, photos, videos. But nothing compared with seeing it ourselves, with our own eyes. And yes, we took photos, but not as an obscene remembrance. It was kind of like when your childhood school closes or is razed or something like that. A part of your life is gone, in a way. Hard to explain. I don't think the word sobering is all that descriptive of my feelings, but it's the best I could come up with. I am thankful that only 13 lives were lost, which is amazing when you see the wreckage. I may post photos with this day's blog. Haven't offloaded them from the camera yet.
Don't want to muddy this posting with anything else. It is still sobering, in hindsight. (I tried to find another word to use, instead of sobering - only found humbling as a distant second.)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I'll try to make this somewhat painless for anyone reading (the numbers are HUGE!).
Let me start with the idea that I assumed I would have lots of time to go on solitary walks while in MN. Weather was beautiful when we first arrived and it would have been ideal. Never happened folks, NEVER. Big mistake.
First coupla days were spent with family. Saw Drummer's aunt and her kids (cousins) on the 3rd. This started our packin'-on-of-the-pounds. Cousin Chuck and siblings provided a feast, including the beef tenderloin that ol' Chuckie barbecued to perfection. Drummer, Chuck and self snagged the rarest slices - mmmmm-mmmm-good!
Tuesday morning we had breakfast with Drummer's friend Scott from high school. His wife had a late night (or early morning, depending on your viewpoint) so we saw her later. Oldest daughter and girlfriends had a t.p.-ing mission, including an early morning visit to the high school to festoon the tree limbs there. Drummer and Scott have a common interest in music, including drumming. The suburb where Scott lives - and where Drummer's bro now also lives - had a drum shop opening recently. Drummer and I eventually got there - I will now know where to find Drummer, when we return to the Cities. He offered to fill out a job app right there and then!
Saw his cousin Carol (couldn't get to the Monday night gig, due to former commitment), hubby Dennis and their two kids on Tuesday. More food - burgers this time, but at least she tried to feed us some healthy stuff, proceeding the red meat by a veggie tray.
Wednesday we actually ate with our hosts - Drummer's Bro and his Wife. Bro is a director at a facility for emotionally challenged kids in a town 60 miles from where he lives. Wife works for a caterer at an upscale women's club, and also was trained as a landscape designer. Her cooking skills are not in doubt, and Bro likes to barbecue. We had some great ribs, and lots of garlic in the side dishes.
I should pause here and comment about the state of the hosts' home. They spent probably over a year having their 1940's or 1950's era home (wife's childhood home) remodelled. They chose to NOT add a 2nd bathroom. They also chose to not insulate the upstairs level - we never saw it, so cannot vouch for its state.
However... we did let them know our arrival date and approximate time, and they were still scrambling to make it accessible (that's the correct word, folks). Apparently Wife is notorious for saving entire publications, when she wants to clip an article or whatever. Evidence abounded for the truth of this - stacks and HEAPS of evidence. But they did clear things enough for us to find their bed (they were gracious and insistent about us staying with them). Bro snagged a bed in the "office" - it did have a desk, after all. Wife borrowed an air mattress from a friend and slept on their living room floor. Well in advance, we offered to find other accomodations, but they insisted that they would be ready -well, sort of ready - well, scrambling-to-make-room ready. That's when we pulled in the driveway.
I have a feeling that lots of stuff got stashed upstairs, and Wife probably doesn't know that Bro occasionally dumps paper stuff into the recycling containers before she gets to it. Probably just as well, although she complained to me that he had thrown out some important paperwork.
But staying with them was so good - actually gave Drummer and Bro a chance to reconnect. It is hard to be the younger brother (Drummer), when the older brother always views you in that way. I think Bro realized that Drummer is an assest to the family, particularly when it comes to working with their father (Alzheimer's) and the unique challenges there. It also provided Wife and me a chance to get to know each other. She is genuinely excited about us moving back to MN and showered us with some real estate publications. Even scoped out a house in their neighborhood (where we will NOT be living) for our possible investigation. I can let my hair down around her - she can match cuss words with me, and we have the same liberal views on politics. What's not to like?
Time to pause and allow me to get my thoughts in order for Part II of this Visit to MN journal.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Got back to our own hacienda last evening - by the time we stopped and picked up some milk and English muffins, it was about 6 pm when Drummer turned off the alarm at the home. Lots of crap to unpack... fair share of it was dirty laundry (even tho' I had washed clothes at my sister's), and the usual stuff that we manage to pick up (printed material - the Onion, the Reader and other things that we don't easily find here, if at all).
The two days of driving back were pretty intense. Seemed much longer than the journey going up to MN. when it really was just the same total hours in return. Guess we were much more tired on the way back...
Ate way too many calories - folks mean well, and it is hard to say no when good stuff is put before you. Also had 2 terrific pizzas - one from Broadway Pizza in Richfield and the other at Sammy's Pizza in Duluth. Those two places know how to do thin-crust 'zas good!
More will be written about these past two weeks, in small installments. It was good to see family, and it makes us more anxious to return to our roots, I guess.
Mom turned 80 on Sept. 15th (which is why we chose this time of year to travel). It was fun to help her celebrate - she is happy when a small fuss is made over her, and I hope we contributed to that. She stepped outside of my sister's house, when Drummer and I were heading to the car. I gave her a hug, and she said (as she does whenever we leave to return to Houston), "I always hate to see you go." I tried to give a little pep talk when I replied, "Well, we'll be living back here in less than 3 years." And her final comment was, "I'm so glad you are coming back to Minnesota, back where you belong." That put a lump in my throat, and I gave her another hug before I walked to the car.
She stood at the back door and waved as we left. I hope she will still be doing as well, as these last 34 months pass.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
We will be taking a road trip in a few days. That might inspire something... maybe. I can at least comment about how Drummer and I have several (only several?) terse conflicts on the first day in the car. These usually revolve about the placement of the cooler on the seat behind me. He seems to think that I am a contortionist (should I be flattered?), able to reach behind me and open the lid, retrieve food or drink, and still keep the seat belt on. I snarl, he grovels... life is good! What saved us on our last road trip was playing books on cd's. Pop one of those babies in, and the next thing you know, you're pulling over to refuel the car and de-fuel your own bladder. And we always have a stash of music cd's - don't ask, he's a "former" musician. (Are they ever really, truly former? Maybe just between gigs.)
This is a trip back to MN to see family and friends. Mom turns 80 in mid-September, and seems to be in it for the long haul. Her dad was 93 when he died (estranged from his family for many years, a topic that may or may not be suitable for this blog site), and the only family member he was in contact with, was yours truly. Her mother, on the other hand, drank herself to death in her early 50's (yes, really she did), resulting in a very unexpected trip to Michigan's U.P. from MN in the middle of the school week. Mom insists that she will see her 100th birthday - and who knows? She's stubborn enough to do that!
Maybe I don't need to lead an interesting life, after all. All this human interest stuff that happened in my own family...
Also, I have been considering a new web site, dedicated to old family letters. I was inspired to do that by Grandma's Diary, which has the verbatim text (usually brief) of entries a young woman made in her diary during World War II. Drummer and I have the letters that his father wrote to his mother (when they were young sweethearts during the same era). I must say that his dad had a wit and certain humor that was pretty original for a young guy of his time. He was blessed with being posted in Great Britain during the war, working for the military's weather service (if I remember that correctly), so he had time to write lengthy letters. Some of his correspondence is a bit racy for the time (he suggested that she might want to burn one of his letters after reading it - obviously, she did not), yet only hints at contacts between them. My, my - who knew that ol' Bob was just as crass as other young men??!
Anyway, just checkin' in. See ya later, on the road.
Monday, July 23, 2007
This being the weekend (at last), I read probably later than I should. So when I finally put the book down, it was like 12:30-plus. I had just turned out the light (I mean, just). And the damn phone rings. This is a portable phone (cordless - and not a cell phone) , and it really doesn't have easy-to-see controls, in the dark.
Flick! on with the lamp that I had just turned out. Fumbled for the talk button. Mumbled, "Hello". Heard something, not sure what. Repeated, "Hello?" and this time it was clear, "Chicken". Wha-a-a-t? I guess I must have said that out loud. Repeat answer, "Chicken". Then "ChickenEgg", clearly enunciated and said like it was one word. I replied, "Wrong number" and turned the phone off. Turned off the light.
Now I don't want anyone to think this is a biased person writing here. But (true to my nature), I lay awake, analyzing what I'd heard. Sounded like a young guy - grade school age? And having been exposed to many folks of Asian background, there was a hint of an Asian accent, too, like maybe someone who learned English at an ESL class (for those of you not in the know, that is English as a Second Language)? So maybe this is his version of playing on the phone?
The next morning, Drummer asked me who that was on the phone last night. Aha - and I thought he'd been sound asleep! Next time I won't try to be so quiet in answering the phone. So I told him my take on the call. In hindsight, it was amusing - and became our word for the day.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
And I know some of the contributing factors, but that still doesn't make it any less real for me. I will always feel that I don't measure up, am not good enough, not attractive to others, etc.
My first real-life memory (believe it or not) was during pre-school days. Must have been about 3 or maybe 4, but definitely before kindergarten age. My mother was walking along a city sidewalk in the town of Duluth, where we were living at the time. My sister (1 year younger than me - or should that be, than I?) and I were with her, back in those everyone's-mom-is-a-homemaker days. And then it happened. The dreaded encounter with a complete stranger (female), cooing, "Isn't she cute?". Now, folks, this comment was not intended for yours truly, but for my admittedly much cuter "baby" sister. And even way back then, at such a young age, I remember a moment which (if I had known the phrase back then) would qualify as the "What am I? Chopped liver?" moment. I felt devalued, because the remark was one-directional, and I certainly knew that it was not intended for me. And thus this complex had its roots.
Now I know that I offer many things to many people. My husband (and, while married to him, my first husband) thought I was funny, attractive, bright and other things that I really do, deep-down believe I that am. But I have always felt like I came up short in many areas.
Maybe this is because I was the first born. I don't know. I do know that my parents (and probably my father more than my mother) pushed me, in school, to get good grades. In fact, if I didn't bring home all A's, I felt that I was not doing well enough. I don't know why, exactly, that I believed this, because I am sure that an occasional B would have been perfectly acceptable. I was dreadfully uncoordinated and did not excel in phy ed classes. I didn't have any ball handling skills, any gymnastic talents, etc. So if I got a poorer grade in that "class", nothing was ever said.
Like many girls of my era, I wanted to be popular, cute, and a cheerleader. And yes, my sister was all of those, plus a homecoming queen candidate, just as I was none of them. I was the class "brain". By the time I was a senior, the rest of the females in the class had dropped out of any advanced math classes, leaving me as the token femme. And, as such, I was the target for the guys trying to "gross me out" with antics and double entendres. Which left me with a thick skin and a tolerance for risque jokes, I guess. I was the class valedictorian. And in case you want to bring up that fact that this might be an easy accomplishment with a small class of 48, keep in mind that a few of my classmates are now employed as a physicist, psychologist, several nurses, etc. We're not talking a bunch of dummies here, folks. I myself did well on my college boards and was a National Merit Scholarship finalist, which at that time was less than 1/2 of 1% of graduating seniors.
Although I eventually was a college drop-out, entering college was such an eye-opener for me. Guys did not care that you were intelligent - it was assumed that you were, in fact, as you couldn't get accepted at most schools without having good grades. Wow - was this what real life was like?
But I still carried around that big ol' IC (I don't want to keep referring to is as "inferiority complex", so I'm going with my own acronym). I carried that into my relationships (trying to be the perfect partner/cook/baker) and also into my work life. I recall getting my first performance review as a programmer. I was in my 20's, so you can do the math and figure out the year(s). With that employer, you first rated yourself on your performance, then your immediate supervisor evaluated you, and then you discussed it. My supervisor, a very nice, patient guy with great new ideas for programming, read my statement and remarked, "Wow - you are your own worst enemy!" He found no fault at all with my progress, but obviously I had. Hmmm..... the big ol' IC - not good enough, not smart enough... hush, Stuart Smalley!
I try to let go of my unwelcome passenger, IC, but it pops its little nasty self back up at unexpected or inopportune times.
Here ends my first installment on this subject.
Monday, July 16, 2007
So, what did we (I) get done this weekend? I luxuriated in 3 days of sleeping late! Felt so decadent, and I think I really needed it. Actually grocery-shopped (forgot how much we had needed to do that, too) and even cooked. When we paint on weekends, cooking tends to fall by the wayside. I don't like that - I want to control what my body consumes (usually).
And we finally got those eff-ing drapes hung up. Yeah, those are the ones that we bought about 5 weeks ago (before starting up with Mr. Change-my-mind). The poor rods and drapes have occupied a place of shame in our family room for weeks. In case we forgot that we have this task looming in front of us (yeah, right). We have only lived in this place for like 9 years, so what is another month or so of looking at ugly blinds in the master? Anyway, the feat was accomplished and they do look pretty good. Ran into the usual stuff, like the metal frames that lurk beneath the sheetrock, around the windows. But only had to patch one misplaced attempt at drilling, before I convinced Drummer to lug out the stud finder (who named that device, anyway??!!) We want to maybe put up a shelf or two over the headboard (just to draw the eyes up, along that wall), and then that room gets a DONE stamp.
This updating of the house is kind of a drag, although we may be fortunate enough to enjoy some of it for 2 or 3 years before we sell it. But OMG - if this house is not looking current, who knows how long it could sit on the market? There are still a bunch of new homes being built out in this general area and we can compete on prices, certainly, but gotta work to keep up with the rest. We sold another house and are very familiar with "neutralizing" your homes - no personal photos, no magnets on the 'frig, etc. And we will have fairly empty closets (send the winter clothes up north) and kitchen cupboards (same destiny for that stuff) by that time, too.
It rained again on Sunday, so we did have Saturday without rain (mostly - just a sprinkle or two). Woke up to hear it raining on Sunday, and ran to the utility room (with umbrella in hand), turned off the house alarm, opened the garage door and retrieved the two plastic-bag encased bundles of paper that constitute Houston's idea of a Sunday paper. The idiot who delivers the paper is so fond of dumping the bags with the open end (does he not want to invest in twist ties?) pointing in the direction of the rainwater's flow. So many times we get sopping wet (cannot read) newspapers. Grrrr.... Got this one in time to save it, but he was true to form and had one of the two bags facing in the expected direction - and that is usually the one with the news in it, as he seems to save the ads most times. And that, ladies and gents, is why this guy is delivering newspapers and the rest of us have real jobs.
I was thinking about how handy this blog would have been, back in my dating years. What a way to dump/unload on some of the guys you run into, eh? My former sister-in-law (was once married to Drummer's brother) posted a real good one about a guy who treated her crappy, after her guard was down and she was thinking that they had something going. Out of the blue, this guy turns tale, tries to blame her, etc. In the long run, he did her a favor. But after you have been single for a while and then are finally putting your trust and affection into a new relationship, this can leave you burned (or at least singed) . She's too nice a person for that.
Speaking of exes - it's my ex-hubby's birthday today. Turns 58. I don't know what made me think of that, except that they were mentioning today's date on the news this morning. Haven't thought about his birthday in many years. He has 4 kids (all adopted) and whenever I hear about him, he sounds happy. I am glad about that. Funny about how time makes things fuzzy. I think we got divorced in 1980, after 12 years of marriage.
Talked with my mother and my sister yesterday. Had a lengthy discussion with my sis, whose birthday is the 22nd. Yup, my parents had two kids in 12 months + 15 days. And, as I am fond of saying, then they found out what caused it (pregnancy)! So there are only the two of us "kids" in the family. Hah - kids, and both of us pushing 60. I guess you stop being a kid, when both of your parents are dead, huh? Sis had just had her 40th high school reunion, and she thought it was a dud, in the long run. Made me feel bad, because mine had been so much fun. Guess some of her classmates were checking their watches and heading for home around 10 pm. At my reunion, I think they had to almost throw us out of the restaurant last year. We were having so much fun, dancing and clowning around.
Mom's really enjoying her hearing aids (got two), but Sis isn't - because now Mom can overhear things that she formerly could not! Next on Mom's list is a new car. I think the car she is driving is a 1990 Ford - used - that she and my dad purchased. It was on Consumer Reports list of used cars to avoid (I kid you not). And both them saying that the other one had wanted this car, but not her/him (depending on who was telling the tale). But she is apparently a Ford gal, and will look at their current models. She is going to ask a former co-worker to go with her (a guy - not in her age bracket, but just a good, helpful guy) , so I hope that he will keep her away from any rash decisions.
We had a really good time with our dinner group last Thursday. Haven't laughed that much in ages. Laughter really IS good medicine. Sure brings your spirits up.
Gotta go. I will try to bring a little levity and occasionally some cutting remarks into the next blogs.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
It felt so-o-o-o good to sleep in, on Saturday. I wonder if my body will ever recover from all the short-on-sleep nights that I have done for many years. We did a little bunch of errands over Saturday and Sunday. Actually went out for a real, sit-down dinner Saturday evening at a restaurant called Kona Grill. Has a limited menu with some pricey items, and also sushi and sashimi, which we have grown to love over the years. We opted for a calamari appetizer which had a spicy aioli dip with it - yu-u-ummm! Drummer has been trying to come around to my tastebuds (I love spicy things), so he eventually picked up the pace and was actually enjoying the dip. Probably shouldn't have had the appetizer, because that did sap our remaining appetites. So lots of the (good) entree' dishes came home with us. That's okay, I guess. I have a hard time paying $8 or $10 for a glass of wine, when I know what the whole bottle costs (not much more than that, believe me). So we saved on the drinks and enjoyed a good glass of some stuff that we had at home. Sorry, folks, maybe this is midwestern values or something - I will pay for food that I will not prepare at home (fancy recipes), but most times will not pay highway robbery prices for wine.
We finally bought a new digital camera. We've been reading and shopping (okay, tire-kicking is more like it) for a while. I am pretty much anti-Kodak, and am suspicious about Sony (just because they do good tv's and audio stuff, does that mean that digital cameras are in their domain, too?). So we pretty much went into this, looking for Fuji or Canon or Nikon. Ended up with a Canon 850 - pretty darned small, takes rechargeable batteries, good-sized LCD screen, has lots of modes - such as snow, autumn colors - and so on. We paid close to $400 before taxes and stuff. Drummer used it at the client's site on Monday. So I am anxious to see how the photos turn out. At least it is a business write-off. Eventually we want to get back into SLR cameras, but right now that is not really necessary.
Wahoo!! Just talked with Drummer. He had talked with Leroy. The client likes the wall in the master, that we did the Ralphy product on! Poor Leroy - the client wants to change the color in the kitchen (we had not liked it). It was really a yellow-y color - sort of like a Cutty Sark yellow, if you are familiar with that product. So they are going shopping for a different color. But the client no longer wants to repaint the (non-metallic) walls in the dining room, it seems. The worst thing about the re-paint of the yellow, is that this color is also on two large art niches which start about 8 feet above the family room floor, plus one in the hallway that is at eye level. Those were a real pain for Leroy to do, I know. Leroy says that he is not painting during this week - he will resume this project on Saturday.
Drummer needs to bring the client the final invoice this week. And maybe I am finished with this client, in terms of blogging. Let's hope so.
We have our dinner group this Thursday. The "host" couple for this month, has decided on Rudy Lechner's. It's a German/Austrian restaurant. Lots of fun to go to, during Oktoberfest, because they have some good entertainment. Love their beer selection - some great dark German beers. Our group has 9 in it, including us. Used to be 10, but then one schmuck decided the grass was greener and left his wife. We all like the wife, so it was not a difficult choice for the one to include! He can be entertaining, but more often was obnoxious and pain-in-the-ass-ish. It's funny - we fell into this dinner group, through our church. They are all Republicans (we are not), so we just let 'em rant and rave. Every once in a while, I try to downplay some of the more negative opinions. But most times it's not worth it. Two of the couples are in my parents' age bracket - late 70's or so. One couple is early-to-mid-60's, and then the single woman turned 60 last year. So we are the "babies", especially Drummer, who will turn 56 this September. And 3 of us have had open heart surgery - me, plus the 2 older guys. Two of the women have had breast cancer - and they were not old when this happened. One was in Saudi Arabia (her ex worked for Aramco) at the time. Five of the group are from Pennsylvania, but did not meet until the dinner group started.
I seriously overslept this morning - I mean, hours later. Woke up in the middle of a dream where we'd discovered that our home had been robbed - and could not believe what I was seeing on the alarm clock. Fortunately, I called my carpooler and he had not yet turned into our subdivision yet. So we both drove separately. I pulled out all the stops and was only 45 minutes late. Amazing what you can do, when you push it. Trouble is, I do not like to rush into my day. But sometimes ya just gotta do it.
Monday, July 2, 2007
No, we did not finish at the client's. Guess what? He changed his mind again. This is no longer amusing. We are going to have to re-do 2 major things, and Drummer explained to him that since this was his idea, he will have to pay for it. The cost of materials, of course, plus additional labor. He didn't like the master bedroom's accent wall, in the long run. This has to do with (1) the fact that the wall is textured, and this kind of finish does not work well on textured walls; and (2) the fact that he wanted all of the "strokes" (we use trowels or Japan scrapers on this application) going in the same direction. Which meant that we had to re-do the portion of the wall that we had already finished before he communicated this concept to us - and then that part did not work well with the stuff we had already completed. Just an ugly mess. (Not the wall, but the process of telling the client all this.)
Drummer is going up to Benjamin Moore paints today to ask them about some of their products, since another product that the client chose, turned out to be much too metallic for the client, once he saw how it looked on the art niche. So the painter has to re-paint the metallic art niche, plus re-paint the master's accent wall one freakin' color. Then Drummer and I will try to apply something on that bedroom wall, that the client had seen awhile back and had never mentioned to us. It would have been so much easier to have used this product in the first place - easier and cheaper for the client, by far. We would probably have been done by now, if that were the case. This is why we ask clients to mention anything they have seen - and tell us where they have seen it, for example. It turns out that this is a Ralph Lauren product, and we had never used this particular product. So we bought some (for our own use, which we can write off as a business expense anyway) and tried it last night. Kind of a nice idea, although the manufacturer does tell you to really load up their special roller (of course ol' Ralphy wants you to buy a special roller plus the special paint - are you surprised?) with their product. We both thought it was a bit too heavy, but we did the sample board so that Drummer can (hopefully) show it to the client today.
On the plus side, the dining room's metallic wall (especially after the furniture is in) looks dynamite! Drummer did a wonderful job on adding the colors that the client wanted. It turned out that the client was looking to bring out some colors in an area rug that he already had for that room (but of course that rug was in Florida, where he'd lived while playing for the Jaguars). I hope we get some good photos of that room for our portfolio. We are hoping to decide on a new digital camera this week, so maybe we can take better photos next weekend. The client will be out of town and we have the key to his place. So maybe the weather will cooperate and give us just a wee bit of sun to play off the metallics (but not too much).
... Drummer did get over to the client's house today. The client actually forked over the balance of what he owes us, up to now (excluding re-do of that damned master bedroom's accent wall). He did like the special effects finish that Ralph's product gave on the sample board, so that's a "go". And we helped him pick out a color for that accent wall, so everything is ready, once again. Parts of that wall now have four coats of specialty product on it, and others have at least two. By the time the painter gets done, it will have one or two additional coats on it! Then we will roll the Ralphy product on that...To be continued... (did you have any doubt?)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Drummer has had to do the tweaking on the metallic wall of the dining room by himself this week. Client wants a little less copper - no, make that a lot less copper - wants some more gold and bronze - no, make that much more bronze, 'cuz he thinks the gold has a green sheen to it (it does not, trust me!). So after more bronze is added, he now thinks the remaining walls in the dining room (painted by Leroy) don't mesh that well anymore. So, off to the color charts again. That was what Drummer and I were doing last night. Sent Drummer off today with some suggestions for the client for the dining room, plus an additional color for just one part of the ceiling in the master (I hope to have photos that will do all of this justice, but I am not too sure how those photos will all pan out).
At least I think he was a bit more aware of WHY the walls aren't panning out as well as he would like, since he does have some texture on those walls. I didn't think it would be too big a problem, but it has actually been a big-ass ol' problem. Never again will we attempt this crap on a wall with even a teensy bit of texture. Drummer took a trowel (or maybe it was a tool called a Japan scraper) and showed him how we moved the product across the wall (or at least tried to move it, in this home's case). If you have ever seen venetian plaster applied, this is the same method. You have the trowel at an angle and try to glide the tool smoothly across the walls surface, spreading the product as you do so. So the client knows what we are up against, anyway.
We have padded in some of the mileage costs and may have to add more. Just on mileage alone, it is a 50-mile roundtrip from our home to his and back again. Plus most of that is on toll roads, and that adds up, too.
Boy, we hope to finish up this weekend. I do not want to be out there the weekend of my birthday - July 7 - but want to selfishly have those days to sleep in or whatever.
Gonna end this one... let's just say that the tale continues (sob!).
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Funny thing is - he called us from our "home" state of Minnesota, having gone up there to (I surmise) sign the contract, as he'd recently been signed as a free agent (his former team had not renewed him). Drummer returned the call and that's why we are at this point of developing an idea to show him. Met with his fiancee at this new house, where she showed us the color charts, etc., that he had mailed to her. We brought Leroy with us - he is the guy who does our base coat painting and (bless him!) also the taping that we need (but he does NOT). So while we were discussing colors and showing her samples, Leroy was doing preliminary measurements and just looking at the construction of the house. Found all kinds of things, which he started to relate to this young woman. The client was on the cell phone with us at the same time, and she was passing some of that info on to him.
Long story short: because we are working up ideas, we will return to their new home on Friday (my day off) and show some work-ups and also to have Leroy tell this guy about the things he needs to have the builder correct. Drummer found some, too, and we are not sure if the water is on or off at this place. It had abysmal water pressure, which was discovered when Drummer used the restroom and flushed the toilet. Ooohwee, that was so-o-o-o noisy - the noise from the flushing, I mean - not poor ol' Drummer's use of the restroom! We proceeded to run water in the kitchen (extremely low pressure) and then I think she was panicking a bit.
This home has one of those "rotunda" entries which some builders are using to impress the clients. Unfortunately for us, that means LOTS of scaffolding, as it is a two-story deal. Leroy will need it for base coating, and I will need it for doing the faux effects, too. Fortunately, I am not really that weird about heights. Don't get me wrong - I would rather not work up that high, but if it will give us something good for our portfolio and also make a client happy (and this faux artist happy, too, with earning the money!), then go for it, I say!
The client likes the metallic effect shown on one of the photos on the website. He is the first one who has the guts (and maybe the money) to do this, so I am looking forward to having a larger room to photograph and put in our "show book" that other clients can review. We did one of our "no-no's" and actually purchased paint without much money from the client, so we can show him at least the dining room idea. We have the metallic ices on hand and can use that without an additional investment, so that will be okay, I guess. I want to work up some ideas for the rotunda, too - so maybe I can sweet-talk Drummer into buying just a quart of that base paint so that I can try an idea out.
Creative genius (up for debate, I know), signing off....
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I'm dealing with one of those mysterious bugs that we all get from time to time. Don't know if I can "blame" my carpooler for this one or not. I do know that one of his kids was sick last week, and then he got sick, too. I think he thought it was allergies, but he didn't sound like he does when his allergies really bother him. So I'll nominate him as the likely culprit - but the truth is, this kind of stuff can just develop in your own system. Of course, by the time it was starting, I did not have symptoms that a doc would use, to give you a prescription. So what can I do?
Woke up on Friday feeling absolutely shitty - so I phoned work about 6 am and left a voice mail for my boss. I am sure that he was not surprised, because he had heard my voice taking a steady downturn during the day on Thursday. Wednesday night I went digging around the medicine cabinet to see if we had anything that I could use. Annnndd... I found a good-sized bottle of amoxycillin that was left over from some oral procedure (tooth pulled?) that Drummer had, back in January or so. I've been taking them since that night, and I think it is having a positive affect on my bug. Seems to be helping a bit, so I'll keep taking it.
I had some half-assed plans on getting something done over the several days off that I would enjoy. But those plans were set aside, obviously. But I'm feeling a bit better, so here's hoping that this weekend won't be a complete washout. Speaking of washout - seeing the downpour this afternoon, we changed our plans and did our crockpot meal today. Good thing that we had a meal planned for that! The prediction was 30% rain chance for each day (and in Houston, that is a pretty common forecast that we don't usually pay attention to), but then it kicked up to 50% for Monday. We have two more meals planned for the barbecue - if tomorrow works out so that we can barbecue, maybe we should just go ahead and cook both meals (chicken and brats). Then if Monday goes to hell, we can just reheat the brats.
We were so bummed when we moved to Houston back in 1985 and there were NO Johnsonville brats sold here. Eventually, after several years, someone started carrying them, and now you can find them all over. Plus, there are some good Czech and German sausage companies here in Texas that do a fine job, too.
I'm continuing this on the 29th, although I do find that the date of the original draft is the one which is associated with it. Got a doctor appointment for tomorrow, so not sure what I should do. Guess I'll take a half-day off and show up after lunch.
Forgot that another coworker was sick last week and carried it into today, too. So maybe he was the source of the elusive "bug"? Poor guy came draggin' in, and after attending a weekly status meeting, he pulled his laptop out and went home. Does that mean that women are stronger?? 'Cause I'm here at work, and he is not. In fact, he was also out sick last week - but on Thursday and Friday.
Sinus infections seem to be an almost annual thing with me. I was congratulating myself on getting thru this spring without one - and pow! so much for good health. I get "doctored" out after awhile. Have to see that damned cardiologist at least once a year. He is very good, but I just don't have a "warm fuzzy" about him. Wicked sense of humor, though. After dealing with him, it takes me a while to approach another doctor, another exam. The guy is autocratic.
Speaking of exams - I just love to listen to some guy complain about having a doc examine his prostate. Puh-leeease - try having a whole hand shoved up inside you. That's what women go thru, with "their" special exam. And some complete stranger then rubs his/her hands all over your boobs, because God knows, they are so-o-o-o much more familiar than you are, with what your boobs should feel like. Like I can't feel if I have a "mass" or lump in there?? And then to add insult to injury, they schedule you for the annual boob-smashing. Every woman alive knows that a man came up with this idea. If it's such a great idea, let's put guys' balls on a similar device and have at it. Women would be lining up to train for this, and I'll bet lots of 'em would volunteer to do it, free of charge.
I really do not hate men. Just venting a bit. Hope that whatever this doc gives me, will finally start to make me feel better. Come on... another weekend is just days away!
Monday, May 21, 2007
Anyway, we visited with them last October. We had driven out (a 2-day journey each way) because his dad wanted us to take some things back with us. And it turned out that his dad just could not relinquish some things, such as photo albums (where he could not remember many folks in the photos anyway), so we probably could have flown. But oh well. We just tried to have a nice visit and did some fix-up things for them - Drummer replaced some of their old lamp parts, which had worn out and would not function as 3-way lights anymore and I oiled their patio chairs (the squeaking was drivin' me crazy!). His dad was much more responsive than we had hoped for. His wife said that he will sometimes "rise" when they have company - maybe that is from outside stimulation?
Drummer phones his dad each Sunday, and last Sunday his dad's wife asked Drummer to consider a visit towards the end of July. She would like to attend her eldest son's wedding in Wisconsin and doesn't feel that his dad will be able to go with her. So we talked it over, and Drummer agreed that he would try to help out - 7 to 10 days. He and I discussed it, and it will be pretty much isolation for him. He loves music and likes his tv, too. And his dad does not like the tv on nor (I think) music, either. Aucccckkkkk! So he thinks he will go stir crazy. And with his dad's dwindling vocabulary, that will pose another dilemma. I expect a LOT of phone calls.
Plus in yesterday's phone call, we learned that his dad had flooded the laundry room and some adjoining rooms, when he left a faucet on. And we do know that he "roams" the house at night, which I guess is typical for Alzheimer's patients. So there are many things to address. Drummer will go out there ahead of time to get a drill in day-to-day care, etc. I know that he is not looking forward to this, but he is doing it out of obligation.
The bad thing is that his dad's father also had dementia/Alzheimer's (how do they tell the difference, anyway?) and then died in his early 90's. So Drummer and his brother are probably wondering (as many would do, of course) if this fate awaits either of them.
Anyway, we are not "up close and personal" with this disease and only know of it via phone calls. Plus I have a co-worker whose mother was diagnosed years ago and finally had to go into a private care home (only licensed for 6 people). I know that Drummer's dad will eventually face some sort of care facility in his future. Not an easy choice to make for his wife and (most probably) his sons.
Obviously, I'll be writing about this in the future.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Most of my dreams are do not stay with me, by the time I awaken. I do have a couple that I recall in some detail, due to the unusual message they seemed to deliver. Both of these dreams seemed to indicate (to me) a past life experience. I know that many do not believe in past lives, and if you are one of those, then continue reading at your own risk.
Both of these dreams had to do with my death(s), in very different circumstances - and which I hope not to re-visit with this body! (Not avoiding death - but avoiding violent death...) In one dream I am dashing down what appears to be a hallway or passageway, and someone shoots at me. I felt the bullet go into my mouth and awoke suddenly to a metallic taste in my mouth. So that would indicate a death in a time when firearms were around. I do not know if I was male or female, but somehow I felt that I was a man in that life. The other past life dream places me with my sister (and I do not mean my current, very much alive sister). We are being surrounded by a crowd, and it is obviously the crowd's intent to beat us to death. I don't recall any weapons (stones, maybe? sticks?), and this one might be from anytime in history, up to the recent times. I don't have a strong feeling on my gender in this and cannot recall seeing my hands or anything similar, that might give me a clue.
But these dreams seemed like hints of past lives - and don't ask me why. It was just a feeling that I had. I have read others' opinions on past lives. Some feel that you keep coming back until you "get it right".
I have such easy familarity with the music of the 1940's - above and beyond the exposure to the music of my parents' youth - and I think I may have been alive during that time. In that case, I must have died fairly young and then made a quick return to another life, since I was born in 1948! For some time, I had a strong feeling that my most prior life was lived as a male. I harken back to the "tomboy" activities that I was drawn to - building forts, playing with cars, riding bikes - and I only had one doll that I enjoyed - and that was only because it was a costume doll and it was interesting to have different outfits for it. My sister loved playing with baby dolls, and yet I never had those little girl dreams of marrying and having children. I mean, I love the nephews and niece that we have between us. Just never wanted kids of my own.
And going along with that gender identity - I never thought that I would not work, either. Always expected to have a job for many years. Which turned out to be several jobs, for many years. But that was through my own choice, fortunately. Never been fired and now looking to retire in 3 years - yahooooo!!
As usual - this is rambling and that means it needs to END! Later...
Thursday, May 3, 2007
So for any (lucky or unlucky) readers, be grateful that I did not post the first draft!
First of all, some explanation. I work at a Port Authority (okay - I work at the Port of Houston Authority in Texas). The Port's director is the head guy (president?) of the IAPH - International Association of Ports and Harbors. On the final year of the current president's term, his home port hosts the international gathering. So of course they solicited the employees for volunteering for various jobs while this is going on. I volunteered for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. My manager is so reluctant to let his staff volunteer (even for Port functions) during the work week, so that's why I chose Saturday and Sunday (on my own time, dammit). I showed up at the Hilton Americas hotel each morning by 8 am and breakfast was provided. Much better than anything I would grab at the house and it was included for free for the volunteers (okay, I know that someone paid for).
Anyway, I don't get to downtown Houston very much, so I carefully looked at maps on how to get there, where to park, etc. And still ended up taking the wrong exit - but at least I know downtown well enough to get further east, where the hotel is across from the George R. Brown Convention Center.
This conference was handed over to some contractors, because who (at the Port) has the expertise in all of these areas? I think the overall conference was given to one contractor, the media stuff to another, and the exhibition stuff to another. Maybe there were more, but those are the 3 areas that I had personal experience with over the 3 days.
I did hear good things about the opening night's program from attendees. So that was handled well, apparently. The registration was fairly FUBAR (ask someone who has been in the military, if you don't know what that stands for), IMHO (okay, ask someone who does texting) - it means, in my humble opinion. Okay - I'll stop using these acronyms, etc. Besides dealing with the "professional" organizers, the most difficult thing at registration was the names of registrants. Of course, some were logical (from our European roots), and others were a struggle. Even when you ask someone to spell their name, we are not used to hearing "zed" instead of "zee"! Every registrant got a complimentary carry-on bag, stuffed with enough whatevers to make it fairly weighty. I did like some of the Asian country attendees, who offered up a piece of paper with their names on it. Okay - I admit that I cannot read the languages which have their own characters, but I thought their approach to that was smart.
By the time lunch rolled around, I was fed up with the little chickies running registration and was considering mutiny. Lunch was also free to the volunteers. Mmmmm - the hotel puts on a mean spread. The desserts were simply to die for. Rest of the food was good as well.
Some observations: the attendees were, for the most part, very considerate and patient. I was lucky that I had volunteered for the week-end, because by the time Monday rolled around, I knew where various halls and conference rooms were (3rd or 2nd floor), so I was comfortable in directing folks to those areas. Language was a problem, of course - I am sure that they had as much trouble with our accents as we did with theirs.
One of the attendee gifts was a cowboy hat. Hats are rated by their X's - the more X's, the higher the quality. The give-aways were 2X, but they were shaped already. Most folks do not realize that a "raw" cowboy hat is not shaped - you choose how you want the brim turned, how you want the crown shaped. An unshaped hat looks kind of like Hoss Cartwright's did (for those of you who remember Bonanza on tv). Seems like most folks were pretty excited to get those hats.
Besides working at the registration check-in desk, I assisted at the room where the hats were being doled out, for a bit. Also worked in the media room (I toted publications down to the magazine racks in the exhibit hall); assisted in getting names and facts straight for the the minutes of an afternoon session of one of the executive committees; and even rode shot-gun for another employee who drove 3 of the registrant's wives to a Western store so that they could look for cowboy boots. One of these wives does line-dancing in Rotterdam (western-style dancing)! I think she was looking forward to flaunting those boots to the other dancers. When you signed up for volunteering, you were told that you should expect to do anything that was needed. And that summed it up.
Overall, it was a good experience. I was glad that I volunteered and got to see the pieces of it that I could. Besides giving us cowboy hats as thank-you's, the Port also gave us a carry-on bag (like the kind that the registrants received) with a few little goodies inside: once of those portfolios (canvas) where you can slip a full-size tablet inside, some book about Houston and its diverse cultures, and so on.
Back to reality now.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Got my hair cut and colored on Friday. That always brings up (in my mind), how much longer do I want to keep this up (the coloring part)? I really like the red/auburn - but that grey/white that really shows at the roots, especially on my temples and sides, looks like it wants to be free! But in the work world (those young women who are everywhere), grey just screams OLD. So I guess I will carry on with this facade for a while longer...
It's grilling season again in Houston, but really it can always be grilling season here. Something we will have to adjust/compensate for, when we return to MN in '10. I'm thinking that we will try to have a covered area where we can wheel the grill under and crank it up, during our ambitious retirement. Maybe try out our grilling expertise on our old friends up in MN! We used the grill on Friday (salmon fillets & asparagus), Saturday (beef steaks), and Sunday (marinated chicken breasts). We do like the veggies on the grill - asparagus, zucchini, onions, and then any combo on kabobs is good, too.
Our neighbors had a garage sale Saturday morning, so we piggybacked on to theirs. We didn't have a lot of stuff, but ended up netting about $75 - which about paid for the tv that we bought from the other garage sale. Our main tv (in the family room) has been going out for some time - the top part of the screen is all weirded-out, so when any game scores display in this area, we just don't have a clue. The replacement tv is a 2003 model, so we hope it will last us until we move out of Houston. Or at least another year or several. The new hdtv models keep increasing in quality and decreasing in price all the time, so the longer we can wait, the more up-to-date and cheaper our new tv will be!
I had to leave Drummer alone to close up the sale, since I had a prior commitment at the church. I had signed up for a ladies' lunch, which is a fund raiser for a new range for the kitchen. Because of the use of the range, the church had to pop for a commercial-level (read: pricey) range. But I guess the old one was a real problem, so this was a blessing in disguise. It was a fun lunch. Each table was "hostessed" by a different person. That person supplied the dishes, glassware, napkins, tablecoverings and silverware - plus other decorative things, as befitted the theme. There were some beautiful china settings, some fun settings - the table I sat at, had used the fiesta stoneware and incorporated those colors; another had a Margaritaville theme; one had used a birthday party theme, with paper plates and napkins, little gift bags, etc. There are some creative minds in that group! It was a "light lunch" - tea, coffee, one scoop each from 2 different chicken salads (so 2 scoops), and angel food cake with strawberries and cool whip. Not high calorie, but tasty. I heard about all the hours involved in preparing the food, tables, etc. I wish I was as giving of my time as some of these women are. The entertainment was a surprise - one of the men at church who belongs to the choir, did 3 solos of operatic-style music. And then he and Danny (the music director) did a duet of another song in that mode. I was so surprised at how good Keith was, and Danny is known for his good voice. We gave a standing round of applause at the end! There was a raffle and a door prize, too. Of course, I didn't win anything, but I contributed to the raffle "pot". It's all for a good cause.
Sunday we were heathens again, and skipped church. Knowing what is facing me this next weekend - I am volunteering both Saturday and Sunday at the IAPH (Int'l. Assn. of Ports and Harbors) gathering which is held in Houston this year - I knew I would need at least one day to myself. My energy level was way down on Sunday. Ended up getting up several times during Sunday night/Monday wee hours, being sick - so I think my system knew that was brewing and didn't want me to do anything stupid.
So yesterday I was home sick. Couldn't stay in our bed, however, because Drummer had already rounded up Leroy to help us finish the painting of our master bedroom. It looked so great when they were done - our color choices were SO right. Now I am anxious to finish this room with drapes and some things on the wall. We had decided to use the same color - (something) Rouge is the name, Valspar paint from Lowe's - that we used on the wall behind the headboard, and put that on the alcove part of the ceiling. I know that is hard to understand. I'll try to post a photo one of these days, of that room.
Well, for a "nothing" weekend, I prattled on and on. Gotta go!
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Damn, damn, damn - I am so sick of being ripped off! I am afraid that, as former Minnesotans, we are too ethical to rip anyone off, but obviously others are not that well-intended.
Drummer had scheduled an a/c company to look at our units (one for upstairs, one for down) and do any necessary service today. This is a good, reputable company and Drummer knows the owner. No, folks, these are the good guys. But in the course of the inspections, the a/c service guy noticed and pointed out things to Drummer which showed that our former a/c service people took the money and ran. Two years ago we had to have our downstairs unit replaced and the bad guys did some other stuff (supposedly necessary) while they were messing with all of that. Well, it turns out that they replaced a perfectly good a/c coil (and trust me, I am just repeating all of this, because I don't know diddly about a/c units). The good a/c guy asked Drummer why we had replaced the coil, and the answer was that the bad a/c guy said the new unit would run much better if it had the coil by the same manufacturer (when we replaced the unit, we had upgraded to a better brand) . The good guy asked if the bad guy had mentioned the 10-year warranty on the old coil - and no-o-o-o, of course that was not mentioned. Damn! $1800 dollars out the door, which we could have held on to for a few more years. I am so pissed. And the bad guys installed the blower unevenly, meaning it was not blowing directly across the coils directly, and so we weren't getting the full benefit of the new unit, even. We are thinking about reporting these little gems to the Better Business Bureau. And if you live in the Houston area and want to know the name of the a/c company that ripped us off, look at the first few entries for a/c in the yellow pages and don't use the one that begins with A and shares the same name as a skiing resort in Colorado. That's all I will say for now about that.
I am continuing this novel on Friday. So, to continue... While the a/c guy was doing his thing, Drummer discovered a pocket of bees swarming outside near the house. Looked like they were trying to build a hive or just plain get into the house, using an opening where a piece of the siding had pulled away slightly (back of the house, kitchen corner). So he phoned a company that we have used before (they took care of the gophers(!) that surfaced in our back yard a few years ago) and arranged for them to have a look-see. The guy set up a nighttime visit to eradicate the critters from our abode. See, bees are less active after sundown, so they are easier to get rid of then.
This was our night to go out to dinner with a group (originally all were from our church) with whom we meet once a month, just for this dinner. A different couple or single selects the restaurant each month. We went to a local restaurant called Corelli's. It was good and conversation was lively and we all got caught up in each other's goings-on for the past few weeks.
When we returned home (about 8:15), the bee guy hadn't been there yet. But he drove up just after that and conferred with Drummer. Once he set everything up to (hopefully) kill the bees, he sent us up to the second story (inside) of our house, back in that same corner, and asked us to put our ears to the walls and floors and concentrate on whether we could hear any swarming after he did the first blast. We couldn't hear a thing - the bee guy thought he could detect something, so he did another blast. Then, afterwards, he instructed Drummer about how to seal up that siding so the critters wouldn't have another opportunity to get in. The house has a lot of Hardiplank, so I guess there are different requirements for taking care of this kind of a problem. I'll defer to Drummer in this one (gladly). The exterminator (yes, I know that is the proper name for this guy) said that he was glad that Drummer had called them so quickly - he has horror tales of folks waiting for a few months and then wanting the bees - which are now very infiltrated into the siding - removed.
So, that explains how we spent nearly $800 Thursday, and that didn't even include the cost of dinner!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
We use these smallish paint "cups" - they are plastic and have a handle, and a smaller area (same cup) that is divided from the main cup and which holds brushes. That's really handy on a project like this, since I apply the paint-n-glaze mix with a larger brush, sometimes switch to a smaller brush, then wipe it off or wipe it down with one or more cloths, until I get the desired effect. Well, we had several of the cups and just assumed that we would replace them. Usually we clean them out (latex is good for cleanup) but we thought we would just throw out the ones that had oil paint residue in 'em. Good thing that we did not throw them out - suddenly, we could not find them anywhere. So (gotta love that Drummer) he cleaned out the cups as best he could, and we re-used them. We have been going through 2 a day (using a fresh one in the afternoon), and this got us through the 3rd day. Plus today, he showed a paint retailer this product and the guy is ordering in a case and we are buying some of them when they arrive in a couple of weeks.
Damn, I hate that I was raised Catholic! We were just too damned tired to get to church on Easter Sunday. I felt like such a heathen. And that guilt comes in, even though I now attend a Lutheran church. Knowing that we had another faux workday on Monday (this plays into my "real" work schedule, which I will explain about) made it that much sweeter to stay in bed, then do some laundry and get a real meal ready. Friday night we had a delivered pizza for dinner. Not the healthiest thing to do, but ya gotta love the convenience. Saturday we actually treated ourselves to dinner at Red Lobster (even bought a glass of inflated-in-price wine for each of us). It felt so good to have someone wait on us and then we have leftovers for one dinner this week, too.
The realtor has been so wonderful to work with. Plus she and I clicked and she is e-mailing me both a gumbo and a jambalaya recipe! She is originally from Louisiana. Late on Monday afternoon, she showed up with a bottle of red wine and we poured 3 glasses and toasted the end of the job! Oh - and she brought us some venison garlic sausage, which is one of her "secret" ingredients for her gumbo (the other one is smoked turkey legs). I like the sausage-and-chicken gumbo better than the seafood gumbo, and so does she.
I got to see the gold medal that the homeowner had received from the 2000 Olympics team that he was on. I was surprised at how large the medal was. It appears to be at least 18K gold, too. That's the closest that this uncoordinated woman will ever get to an Olympic medal!
It was so nice to have another job behind us, and something to add to our portfolio. I think we will definitely have to charge at least$2,000, if we are ever asked to bid on such a good-sized project again. This was a real bitch of a project to do, but overall it looks okay. And the realtor gets to hold her invitation-only open house (invite only those realtors who have clients that are in the market for upper-priced properties) right on time! So we did her a favor and she took a flying leap of faith and gave us the job. We were both "rewarded" in some fashion.
So it's back to my "real" job today. Did I mention that I am on those 9-80 work weeks? We work 80 hours in 9 days, which gives us every-other-Friday off. My day off last week was also a work holiday. So when that happens, you get a "bonus" day off - Thursday before or Monday after. I chose Monday, in case we needed it to finish this project.
Tonight it's leftovers for dinner (pizza, probably) and maybe get a load of laundry done. And then set my butt down on the couch and do a little vegging... (seems like that oughta be spelled "vedging") -- later, y'all.....
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
So a realtor (who will put this house on the market shortly) saw our website and phoned us. Our pages on that site are very out of date, but I have been unwilling to pay someone else to do the updates. So we live with this outdated site. Drummer met with the realtor and took photos, and then we reviewed them. But since I will be doing the grunt (okay, the creative) work on this one, I wanted to see the place myself. And that's how we started last weekend, by meeting at the client's home with the realtor on Saturday. We gave an estimate and then waited. It seems the client had, on her own, contacted someone that she knew for an estimate, too. Well, our estimate was about 1/3rd of what the other faux person quoted, so we got the nod. Now we will have to try to do an antiquing finish on kitchen cabinets, using oil-based paint. We have never used oil-based before, but the only problems will be disposal of rags - we'll have to go to a hazardous-materials disposal site. Since the original faux-ing was started with oil-based paint, we are rather forced into using the same type of product. We prefer latex - less toxic, easy cleanup, etc.
This is a home owned by an NBA veteran player. I had to look up his name on the internet. He has been playing for several years and gets an - ahh - let's just use the word "ample" compensation for his endeavors. The home is about 7,000 square feet and of course is beautifully decorated. I have not seen most of the home, but Drummer was given a tour of it by the realtor, after we had been given the go-ahead on the project. The property is gated, and there are two 2-car garages (yes, they have 2 cars in each, and they are not used Hondas) plus another vehicle parked under the port cochere. This basketball player does not play for Houston - he is with another team, in another state. Long story about why they bought the house, and about why they are selling it now. The realtor said that they are a very nice couple to work with (and I am sure that this is NOT true of all moneyed folks). I read good things about this player on the 'net, including his family upbringing. It is interesting to see how the upper 2% live. All this stuff for a home that they only occupy for 2 - 4 times a year, when they come to see his wife's family. I can't imagine what their primary home must look like.
So we figure that this will be a 2-day job (hopefully, no more than that) and we will tackle it on Friday (Good Friday) and Saturday. Not that we had big plans for Easter, anyway - but we will now have to try to plan our meal and buy the stuff ahead of time. I am so glad that Drummer is a capable grocery shopper and can do that without me being there. It will be easier to get ready for the weekend this way.
We wanted to practice using oil-based paints, and Drummer had (a few months ago) snagged several cabinet doors that Home Depot was tossing out. He's putting a base coat or two on two of the doors, and then I can practice with the paint, applying the oil-based stuff with a brush and then wiping it off. I think I will be sick of the paint smell after this weekend. I would never use it in my own home.
Well, need to bring this to a halt. Gotta leave early for a blood test. I take anti-coagulants (okay, blood thinners to most) and have to get that level checked to make sure that I won't throw a clot off my artificial heart valve or that I won't bleed to death internally, either. There's a magic number that I aim for: 2.5 to 3.5. I have been much, much lower (clotting danger!) and a few times much, much higher (bleeding danger - don't want to cut my legs shaving, when this happens) . All kinds of things can skew these numbers: prescription antibiotics, infections, Tylenol or Advil, broccoli or spinach, and then sometimes I don't have a clue as to what happened.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Now we're talking about replacing a flush-with-the-ceiling light with a light which has a small, drop-down pole, so the new light is not flush with the ceiling. This whole thing was the very devil to do, and I ended up pushing Drummer out the door to see if there was any intelligent being at Home Depot who could give us some options, short of trashing the damned light and going with another flush-mount (not my first choice) one. If you have done any DYI at all, you have probably run into the many incompetents that now staff Home Depot stores. This is what happens when management is more concerned with the bottom line and the the customer be damned. Harrummph. Drummer actually found a good guy and picked this guy's brain, returning with a universal adapter which screws in, across the open box, and makes it easier to mount a light on such a non-standard box. We were on side-by-side ladders to get this task accomplished, so that one of us would not have arm fatigue and drop the damned light. Even when we got the base installed, the drop-down pole thing-y was definitely not plumb, thanks to the poorly installed junction box. At that point, we had brain fatigue. So we hung it up for the day and I turned it over to Drummer. Sometimes it is better to save your marriage than it is to finish a project.
So, of course, we had hoped to start painting the master bedroom - and that did not even get started. We've had the paint for a month or so, but haven't gotten around to putting it on the walls. I am anxious for this, because it will bring some color into the room. Lowe's carries some great colors and this is from the Earth Elements line. It is called Burnished Copper. Kind of a deep, orange-y color - like adobe or something in that color line. That will go on the wall behind the headboard. Then we got another color from that same line - something in the deep tan or very light brown family - and that will go on the other 3 walls. Since the paint has probably separated by now, Drummer will take it back to Lowe's and get it remixed. Maybe we can get the painting started this weekend?
I am very happy and proud of what we have accomplished so far. Neither one of us is all that mechanically inclined, but we both have a good eye for color and style. So we just limp through the more difficult stuff until we get it done. One thing that we have learned from our faux painting jobs - you can work together and no one has to die. Or, for that matter, no one has to be right - whichever way gets something done and looks okay, is fine!
It was nice to come home last night and see that Drummer had given it the ol' college try (and just what does that mean, anyway?) and had jimmied the drop-down pole into being closer to the vertical. It was definitely close enough that we were able to install the frosty-glass portion that covered the light bulbs, and no one can tell that the pole is a bit off-kilter. Hurray!! Looks great, too.
Well, I need to get this posted. Back sometime soon...