Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 43 - Something's Gotta Give

Last time I blogged I was wishing for a normal week and laid back weekend to get back to normal. What I was forgetting was the library’s annual book sale, of which I’m the co-chair. Even when I wasn’t at the library this week, the book sale was constantly in the background. Just one more week and it’ll be over for another year.

Monday night I had a Library Foundation meeting at 7:00 and had planned to pop into the library on the way home and see if Connie, the other co-chair who deals with all the books while I handle the logistics, was there dismantling the Friends’ Book Shop. I was hoping she wouldn’t be so I could go home and grab dinner before the meeting. The coast was looking clear but just as I was leaving the library, in she walked just having returned from her dinner. I went back in and spent 45 minutes schlepping bookcases before my meeting started. Needless to say, I would rather have been knitting with my friends on the other side of the library. Oh well. When I finally got home at almost 9:00, I had a bowl of cheerios (supper of champions?), watched TV for an hour to unwind and went to bed. Not a good way to start the week!

Tuesday was a perfectly normal day – work, water aerobics (my first time in 2.5 weeks), dinner than some TV before bed. I had made arrangements to meet with the plumber first thing Wednesday morning to discuss how to solve my shower problem. He did more back pedaling, saying it went against the grain for him to install things I’d bought when in fact he hadn’t hesitated to wash his hands of buying anything for my project from minute 1. He looked everything over and said I’d bought the wrong showerhead. I was pissed and told him that when he sent a French major who sits at a computer all day to buy plumbing supplies and all I had to rely on for help was the pimply faced kid at Menard’s, this was what happened. I suggested he should get the right showerhead since he was a plumber and so would know which one would work. Sheesh, what a jerk! So we left it that he’d look into it and get back to me for approval on what he’d found.

Work was busy that day, with me prepping data for a meeting with the auditors the next day. The data wasn’t cooperating but I got them something that they could live with for fiscal year ‘08 and I said I’d run ‘09 first thing in the morning before the 10:00 meeting. It was only when I had gotten to my car that I realized I had a dentist appointment at 8:00 so wouldn’t have time in the morning. And I was on the way to meet my cousin to take her out for dinner and a movie for her birthday so couldn’t head to back. Helen and I had a nice dinner and saw an intense movie – Law Abiding Citizen – and I got home just before 10:00. Having just the day before set up the ability to remote into my work computer from home, I plopped down to run the ‘09 data. In doing so I figured out what the problem was with ’08 and before I knew it, it was 12:30. I went to bed knowing I’d be tired the next day but at least they had the data they’d need for the meeting. I set the alarm for an hour later than normal and was out like a light.

At 6:05 the next morning, I awoke to music blaring right outside my bedroom window. My neighbor Cara had a friend drop by who was standing on her patio with his car door wide open and the car radio at ear-splitting volume. I opened my window and screamed like a harpy twice before they heard me and shut it off. WTF! It was 6:00 in the morning! Starting the morning pissed off was beginning to be a trend. Plus it was raining steadily for the second day in a row and I was starting the day with only 5 hours sleep. At least my dentist appointment went well.

I was punchy as hell at work and decided early on that water aerobics was not happening. I had book club at the library at 7:00 and had enjoyed the book (The Worst Hard Time about the dust bowl) and wanted to discuss it. Alas, I was too beat for that too. I had to stop at the library to sign a check so returned the book, told the librarian I would not be back and went home to nuke some dinner, watch Survivor and wait for 9:00 so I could go to bed. Surprisingly, I didn’t sleep very well but at least was horizontal for 8+ hours.

On Friday the office was like a ghost town. It was raining AGAIN and my supervisor, my boss and half the office was either on vacation or called in sick. The day flew by and I left at 5:00 for the pool. By then the sun had come out and the fates were kind to me because no one else showed up so class was cancelled. I stopped at the grocery store and went home for a nice night, all the better to recharge so I could have a super productive weekend.

After my usual Carolyn phone call Saturday morning, I sat down to make some lists in an attempt to get my arms around everything that needs doing – from short-term chores to a list for future house projects that are big enough to hire a contractor. Then I grabbed some lunch and headed to, you guessed it, the library. My intent was to spend 2 hours working in the gardens because my Master Gardener volunteer hours are due next Friday and I’m 3 hours short. Well, I walked in and there was Connie sorting books. I couldn’t not help so worked an hour until we got them all done. Connie had been there since the library opened. By the time I got outside, it was looking pretty dim and it started spitting rain before I’d done much. I kept going and got about half of the mulch spread before giving up. I was damp and achy and just wanted to go home and take a shower and have a cup of tea to warm up. I enjoyed a pleasant hour before heading to Andy’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Fremont, with Lorri and Bob. I was treating them because Lorri had bailed me out when I couldn’t find the towel bars at 9:00 the night before I was leaving for California. Not only did she measure the old ones and buy replacements but she had to drive to Omaha to get them because they weren’t available in Wahoo. We had a nice early dinner and I was in my jammies before Bob and Lorri drove the mile to their house after dropping me off. It seemed like the entire week was spent either running full steam or sitting in my nightie in front of the TV. Once the book sale is over, I’m hoping for a bit more moderation on that front.

Sunday was my typical chore day, with my semi-annual clothes swap thrown in – the day I spend each spring and autumn swapping out my clothes. It’s always good to go through everything, including the ironing pile (I have a stack to do this week while watching TV) and the hand wash pile (It’s now done and I have wet sweaters and such all over the house.) Now at least I’ll have more to wear besides the few transitional outfits I’ve been sporting for weeks. And I’ve declared Wednesdays (the one day I reliably don’t have an after work commitment) to be “Old Clothes Wednesday.” I’m going to make an effort to wear the clothes that perennially hang in my closet unworn. I’m hoping this will help me weed out some of them. If I put it on and decide it won’t do, it goes for sure and I’m sure they’ll be other things I decide I’ve worn for the last time and put in the Goodwill pile. Even though my word is enough, I still struggle to get rid of perfectly good things. It must be genetic. At least what I have fits in my closets and bureaus. What I really should be more concerned with is the clutter in the rest of the house. What I need to declare is a going through shit day! Hmmm…..

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week 42 - Plumbers from Hell!

So, the plumbers. I had a leak behind the wall of my shower that Mark, Connie’s husband, had tightened up a few years ago through a hole in the floor under the tub but now it was back. I had gone into Fud & Tracy’s, the heating/AC/plumbing shop I’ve always used, to book them to come in while I was gone and fix it. I had to be away because I only have one bathroom and to fix it they had to tear out the tub surround, put in new pipes, patch the drywall and then replace everything. I thought I’d covered all my bases – scheduling it 6 weeks ahead, explaining in detail exactly what I wanted and buying all the supplies. Yeah, right.

They called my cell while I was out west a few times, asking various questions. When I happened to ask if the drywaller, a sub contractor, was there on Tuesday, they said he was coming Wednesday, which was the day I was back and it should have been done. When I said as much, they said they thought I was gone all week and it wouldn’t be done by Wednesday night. I was immediately pissed, realizing my plans for a relaxing long weekend at home were shot. I called work and said I’d be in on Thursday and Friday and tried not to blow a gasket. Little did I know what else was in store for me.

I got up Thursday, washed my hair in the sink and headed for work. I got a call from Jake, Tracy’s son and the plumber who was doing the job, Thursday afternoon with some questions that made me think he was meticulous, giving me hope that the job would be well done when I got home. The last time we talked, he said he’d be done by 2:00 and would be coming first thing Friday to put the calk around the bottom of the tub and then would be done. Well, I got home Thursday and was instantly furious! It was like I’d never had the discussion with Tracy because they had completely ignored all my directions. They’d installed a single handled faucet, which was not the old fashioned one with a hot and cold knob that I’d asked for. The surround was also badly installed and, worst of all, the shower head was installed 2” from the corner. My previous anger couldn’t hold a candle to how I felt now! I got on the phone and ranted to anyone who would listen and called Nora to say I would not be in on time Friday because I was waiting to talk to Jake in person. I barely slept that night.

Jake arrived at 8:30 and was great. Although I had to question his common sense, he fessed up that it was the worst job he’d ever worked on because his father had given him no direction beyond “tear out the wall, repair the pipe and she bought everything you need to reinstall,” so he was flying blind on the whole job. We left it that he would move the shower head to the middle of the wall and come back at a later date to replace the surround, which would have 2 holes in it from the bad install, at their expense. I went to work to email everything we’d discussed (I’m done with verbally communicating with them), feeling like there was light on the horizon. Then I took a shower!

The whole point of my detailed explanation to Tracy was I wanted to keep the externally installed, hand held shower that I had. We called this “my cheesy set up” and Tracy said he’d install normal shower piping behind the wall so a real shower could be easily installed down the road in case I wanted to sell or changed my mind. Well let me tell you, if you have an external hand held shower, you MUST be able to control the amount of water coming out of the spigot before you divert it to the shower. If you can’t, which is the case with the single handled tap, it’s like having a fire hose on full force without burly firemen to hold it down. My shower had a life of its own, throwing itself off of the wall bracket and pointing in all different directions as it struggles with way too much water pressure. So, after agreeing in the email to deal with the single handled tap, I now have to email them again (not that I’ve gotten a response to the first one mind you) and tell them I cannot live with it unless there’s some way they can decrease the volume of water coming through the system.

So that’s the story of my plumbing fiasco. While Jake and I came to an agreement, I’m not expecting that this will be the last drama surrounding this project. I should only be so lucky! The weekend was uneventful. I did all my catch up chores, cooked and knitted a lot, finishing my scarf and making progress on my new socks. It’s going to take a slow week and another laid back weekend before I feel back to normal. Here’s hoping I get both of those in the next seven days.

Extra - My Monterey Trip

I woke up before 4:00 so just got out of bed and puttered, throwing the last few items in my suitcase and getting on the road on schedule at 4:30 so I could be at Nancy’s before 5:00. The flight was uneventful. We picked up our car (a Hyundai Accent with zero pick up) and headed to Monterey, stopping for a late lunch at In & Out Burger on the way. By the time we arrived at Nancy’s parents’ house, we’d already been up for more than twelve hours and it was only 2:00. Despite Nancy’s insistence that her parents were not talkers and would not “visit” with me, I spent the afternoon doing just that, first with her dad and then with her mom, who was making the only dish in her repertoire for supper – beef stew. Having been warned of her lack of cooking ability, I watched with trepidation as she sprinkled things like sugar, lemon juice and various other additions into the pot. Despite the odd ingredients, the stew was delicious. After an early supper, Rita got behind the wheel of her ancient diesel Mercedes and drove us to 17 Mile Drive. The sun was setting as we got to the lone cyprus but by leaning on the railing and using the night setting on my camera, I was able to get some beautiful shots. After the sun went down, it was pitch black so we inched our way back home and I sat like a zombie in front of the TV while Rita flipped channels, waiting until 9:00 so I could go to bed. Tomorrow would be a busy day.

Since the first rain since March was forecast for Tuesday, we had to fit everything in on Monday. Nancy decided to stay home with her dad while Rita and I headed down the coast for “the tour.” Cleary Rita was a pro at this because she narrated along the way and stopped at the scenic overlooks with the best picture taking opportunities. She even counted between the lighthouse flashes so I could click exactly when the light went on for the perfect picture.

Our first official stop was at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see the waterfall. The scenery was gorgeous and I took lots more pictures, coached on many of them by Rita, who is a skilled photographer. There was a perfect little brook (the one that fed the waterfall) that I was aching to get my feet in but it didn’t have easy access and I resisted. We drove back north from there to Pfeiffer Beach, which is accessed by driving a single lane road down the side of a mountain. The terrain changes as you drive down from redwood forest to cyprus lined beach. The waves breaking through the rock arches along the coast are gorgeous and I took many more pictures.

Our last stop was another state park to see the redwoods. Rita scammed her way in by saying we were going to the restaurant and we promptly headed up the path to see the trees. Rita was dismayed that her favorite trail was closed because they’d had a fire there this summer. I was fine with that because at this point, I was having trouble keeping up with Rita, who is a dynamo with the energy of someone half her age. The redwoods were majestic and I struggled to capture them adequately with my camera. As we were headed back to the car, Rita offered to take a couple’s picture. While she coached them on the best place to stand, I stepped off the path and headed for the stream, which was only 10 feet away and easy to get to. I pulled off my shoes and socks and stepped in for some quality California wading. I didn’t have my feet in the water for a minute (it was freezing cold!) but when I turned around, Rita was not there. I had been sure she’d see me, maroon clad butt in the air, just off the path. I hurried up to the road in my bare feet and looked down the hill. Still no sight of her. I was feeling bad that she might be worrying so threw my shoes and socks on my now muddy feet and started down the road towards the car, calling her name as I went. When I got down to the parking lot, there she was coming out of the gift shop. When she’d finished taking the picture, she’d missed seeing me off the path, assumed I’d headed back to the car and ran down the hill. She seemed unbothered by my wading escapade and we headed back home. Despite any turmoil I caused, I was glad I waded. It would have been criminal to miss an opportunity like that!

After washing my feet and changing my socks, Nancy and I headed to Cal State Monterey Bay, where we were meeting my old boss from UNL, Jim Main. I’d emailed him when I’d realized he was so close to Nancy’s parents. He was taking us on a tour of his campus, which was on the old Fort Ord and so was full of abandoned military buildings, which you know I’d love to see. He drove us all around and showed us both the refurbished parts of the base and the old dead part. We ended up at his house, which is both sides of a duplex that used to house officers but has been made over as staff housing. Because it’s in such a rich area, lots of the staff rent converted quarters on campus. It’s a sweet deal. The houses have been redone to modern standards and are huge.

We picked up Jim’s wife Camille and John Marker, another UNL transplant whom I’d never met but the more the merrier. We went to Taste of Monterey, a wine club they belong to, for a wine tasting. After sampling 5 different wines, we each got a glass of our favorite and sat overlooking the bay to enjoy them. We then headed upstairs to a seafood restaurant for a fabulous meal. Nancy hit it off so well with Jim and Camille that she and her family are now invited to a Husker game party the day after Thanksgiving, when they’ll be in town visiting her parents again. It was a wonderful time and I let Nancy drive home because I’d had four (!) glasses of wine (one normally makes me useless.)

It was pouring rain when we got up on Tuesday. Nancy and I had poo poo-ed their “storm,” thinking they were being weanies but it was a storm indeed. We watched sheets of rain blowing in the wind and could hear branches splitting and debris hitting the roof. Rita thought we were nuts but Nancy and I headed out to do some shopping. Armed with a list from Andrea, we went to Parker-Lusseau bakery in Monterey for croissants and then hit the Trader Joe’s, which was conveniently right behind it. Then it was on to a yarn shop in Pacific Grove, where their electricity was off so I opened a blind and shopped for sock yarn in the semi-dark. They had some beautiful hand dyed yarn but it was $22 and not quite enough for a pair of socks (WTF?) so I only bought one skein of a pretty variegated bamboo.

With every passing minute, the rain was coming down harder. We drove back toward the local shopping center where Nancy wanted to hit a couple of thrift shops. We ducked into the first restaurant we saw and had soup and fish tacos then ran across the parking lot to the first thrift shop. By the time we got there, I was soaked to the skin. It seemed like Nancy took forever in there and we still had another store to hit and the market. On day ten of my cold and now soaked to the bone, I just wanted to get home and have a cup of tea. Two stops and many bags of groceries later, we headed home to make dinner for Nancy’s parents, something we’d planned to do from the get go.

Well, we arrived to find that the electricity had already been out for 5 hours so no tea, no dryer for my clothes and no stove. I took a quick shower in the dark, put on dry clothes and settled into a chair in the atrium where it was light enough to knit. I listened to Nancy chatting with her parents in the living room and we all waited for the lights to come on. Rita got out candles and at 7:00 we decided to go out for dinner. The local Chinese restaurant was crowded and hot but we filled our bellies then went back home to pack in the dark, going to bed early since there wasn’t much else we could do. The lights came on at 12:05 a.m., which woke us up. They’d been out for 13 hours.

We pretty much got up the next morning, ate breakfast and headed to the airport. My plans to take the rest of the week off had been nixed by the inept plumbers who were behind on redoing my bathroom so I’d called work to say I’d be in on Thursday. That put a damper on the end of my trip but more on that in the next post. We had another uneventful trip home, except for my ire at the plumbers, which caused Nancy to offer me one of her happy pills. I declined. I dropped Nancy and got home ~8:00, at which point I unpacked and fell into bed. It had been a wonderful trip and it was good to be home.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Week 41 - Ain't Doin' Right

Well, I didn’t go to work on Monday but rather sat like a zombie in a chair feeling so congested that it felt like my head would explode, despite the Claritin D I’d taken. Although I'd started a new pair of socks on Sunday, I even skipped knitting at the library. I was really sick! I got up on Tuesday though and went to work but broke out in a sweat any time I moved so probably still had a fever. Oh well. I slogged through the day feeling like crap but had a breakthrough when I got home and was able to do a few chores without sweating, which was progress.

When I finally got home from work Wednesday night (I was feeling much better, although still congested, and had stayed late to finish something), I noticed that Mama Kitty was in distress, squatting repeatedly no matter where she was and dribbling urine each time. Also Pixel, who had been limping since the weekend, was much worse and was holding her foot three inches off the ground and wouldn’t put any weight on it. Clearly I was going to be spending some time at the vet. I called in late to work on Thursday and called All Feline in Lincoln about bringing in Mama Kitty. They said to bring her right away so I dropped her off on the way to work, concerned that she might have crystals blocking her urinary tract, which two of my previous cats had had. I called on and off all day but she wouldn’t pee and they needed urine to test. By the end of the day they told me she’d have to stay over. In the meantime I’d made arrangements for a Husker Cats volunteer to take Mama Kitty for the next week while I would be away. I’d also made an appointment for Pixel at my vet in Wahoo for Saturday morning.

I called on and off all day Friday (the cat had peed overnight but they were waiting for the vet to come in and then to find time to run the test), all the while keeping the back up foster person in the loop. It wasn’t until after work when I was on the way to Menard’s to buy everything the plumber would need to redo my tub while I was gone that the vet called. Mama Kitty only had a UTI – big relief on my part – and Christina had already been called and was on her way to pick her up. Cat issued resolved, now plumbing.

My friend Susan had emailed Thursday to say she’d be in town Friday and Saturday and was looking to do dinner Friday night and needed a place to stay. I had of course offered my spare room (good thing I’d torn the room apart Wednesday night and reclaimed it from the kitten’s residency) but had declined dinner, figuring one of her other friends would jump at that. Well, she called to say she’d take me up on the offer to stay over and also that no one could do dinner so she’d but up for that too. So, we met Menard’s to pick up my plumbing supplies (and how convenient it was that she had her parents’ van!) and then headed to Wahoo. The forecast was not only for our first frost overnight but snow (!) so Susan helped me bring in all my plants while we waited for our pizza. We had a pleasant evening of pizza and chatting then headed to bed.

We woke to 4 inches of snow and it was still snowing! I had to be at the vet at 9:00 so Susan beat a hasty retreat and I took Pixel, who was hardly limping at all by this time, to the vet where she got a clean bill of health. When I was paying the bill, which was ridiculously low (I LOVE this vet!), I looked down at the appointment book and saw “9:00 – Fenton ADR.” I could not help but ask what ADR meant and it took every effort not to burst out laughing when I was told “Ain’t doin’ right.” That just seemed to sum up my entire week!

I spent the rest of the day trying to situate all my lantanas and geraniums without my house looking like an overflowing greenhouse and packing for my trip the next day. Since I had to be up at 4:00 a.m., I was striving for an early bedtime (I was relatively successful.) I’ll call that my week because my ADR trend was about to change.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 40 - Forced Slow Down

Having spent most of the previous Sunday bonding for one last time with the kitten, I started the week behind on chores. With the cleaning lady due on Tuesday and book club at my house on Wednesday, I plowed through neatizing the house after work both Monday and Tuesday nights, happy that the lasagna for book club was already made.

I left work early on Wednesday so the lasagna would be ready by 6:30 when everyone arrived. Book club was fun, with just a small group of four but the book was good (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was my suggestion) and the discussion was too. Everyone left with lasagna so I wouldn’t be faced with eating it for a week. With book club over, I looked forward to the rest of the week being quiet. Yeah, right.

It was a really frantic week at work and Thursday was the icing on that cake, with budget problems messing up the running of deans reports and that in a month where I had to get them done in a day and a half instead of two because of meetings all afternoon on Friday. Thursday was maniacal but I left on time to get to the pool, figuring exercising would help combat the day’s stress. Then despite wanting to do nothing more than go home, nuke some lasagna and watch Survivor, I headed to the library to do book sale stuff in preparation for Saturday’s Friends meeting. I ran around town posting flyers and putting out book donation baskets then back to the library to copy more flyers. I didn’t get home until 8:00 and struggled to keep my eyes open until bedtime.

Friday was another busy day at work and earlier in the week I’d made plans to go to Capitalism: A Love Story with Nancy. So I hit the pool at 5:00, met Nancy and her crew at Panera at 6:15 and went to the movie at 7:00. It was good and every liberal in Lincoln was there and, just like when we saw Al Gore’s movie, they clapped when it was done. So odd! I got home after 10:00 and fell into bed exhausted.

I woke up with a slight sore throat on Saturday but chalked it up to sleeping in a cool house (it’s just too early to turn on the heat so I’m trying to tough it out.) I went to the Friends meeting at 9:30 and had hoped to have a couple of hours at home before picking Andrea up for a trip to Omaha to check out a yarn shop I hadn’t been to. But I ended up needing to head to Weston to hang more flyers so convinced Lorri to come so we could grab an early lunch at Rezac’s. By the time we were done, I had to head right to Andrea’s. We hit HyVee for some super sales and then went to the yarn shop, which was fun. I was only buying 2 skeins of sale yarn but Andrea, who is a bad influence when it comes to yarn, convinced me to buy another lot of 3 skeins. Just more for my stash. : )

By the time I got home, it was clear I was getting a cold. I pulled out the Zycam, nuked the long-awaited lasagna and had my veg night in front of the TV. I woke up congested on Sunday morning and feeling generally punk (my mom’s term for under the weather.) I did almost nothing all day, managing only to bake some bread and do a load of laundry. Otherwise I sat on my butt, watching the National Parks on PBS and knitting. This cold is my body’s sneaky way of making me slow down. Whether I make it to work tomorrow or not is uncertain. I guess I’ll have to see how I feel in the morning. But at least I’ll be over the worst of it before I leave for California next week so I guess it’s better now than later.