Monday, July 23, 2007

Midnight caller

I am oh-so-glad that I read late, Friday night. Unfortunately, I usually start reading about 10:40 or so, and many times I just do not know how to put the book-of-the-moment down. You know that, "Oh, just another few pages and then I'll stop", thinking? Not a good idea on a work night.

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

Inferiority complex - part 1

I am confessing to an inferiority complex. Yes, folks, me. The sometimes belligerent, usually friendly and self-assured person that you may know (I think the only readers I have are close friends and family).

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

Resume your normal activities

Yes, we are completely finished with this client. But the poor painter, Leroy, is not. We picked up our final check, talked with the client and with Leroy (they were going shopping for a newer paint color to replace the paint that was recently put in the kitchen - and no, we are not surprised). So the weekends are now our own, once again!

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

Well, it will be a nice change of pace to NOT be blogging about that damned painting job. Although we were there on the Fourth (not my recommended way to spend a holiday, even if it is raining - which it was). And again on the 6th (Friday - reminding y'all that I did put in a full day at my real job that day) - both times, re-doing that damned master bedroom wall. The first time, we didn't like the results. So we asked Leroy - bless him! - to re-paint it, and he did it without charging us a dime. Then we used Friday to lay down another special effects with the ol' Ralphy product. I wasn't sure that it was drying okay, so I convinced Drummer to drive over there on the 7th, even tho' I had insisted that I couldn't look at that place on my birthday. And it looked pretty good! Sure hope the client thinks so, too.

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

Please release me, set me free...

This title says it ALL.

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?)