Monday, June 28, 2010

Week 26 - Back on Track

Slow but sure, I’m getting back to normal. For the second week in a row, I didn’t go to the pool (don’t ask) so split my free evenings between having fun and reclaiming my life.

I started Monday at the podiatrist’s office and finished at the dentist’s office. Both my feet and my teeth were smooth as silk. I started getting organized before heading to the library to knit, which was fun. Tuesday found me running errands at lunch – dropping stuff at Goodwill and buying new lampshades and shelves to go under my shoe rack. Target didn’t have the Liberty of London sheets I wanted to I ordered them that night before cooking some shrimp and broccoli for supper and orange scented chocolate chocolate chip bread pudding (see recipe below) – yum! It was the first cooking I’d done in a long time and even felt remotely healthy (the shrimp, not the pudding.)

After work Wednesday I was driving to Whole Foods in Omaha to meet Anne, who was at a week-long conference in Council Bluffs, for supper and another night of knitting, this time with the Food and Fibers group. There were about 25-30 people there and they were very friendly. A couple of people were spinning and one woman had hand dyed sock yarn for sale. While I can’t say I’d drive up there every week, I would definitely go if I needed something (need?) at Whole Foods.

The whole point of going to Omaha was to go to Urban Outfitters, which is way down by the river, to get the perfect area rug for my bedroom. But a quick phone call confirmed that they didn’t have it so I ordered it online before I left for Omaha. At least I found out before driving 90 blocks in the wrong direction from Whole Foods. Since the fuschia lamp shade had worked (I’d been concerned about it not allowing enough light through to read in bed), I was all set to keep the fuschia drawers for the shoe cubby I’d bought. I think my short list of purchases for step one of my post-painting redecoration was done.

Thursday night was book club at the library and I’d planned to mow before I left since Friday and the weekend were supposed to be blazing hot and the grass was tall after the butt loads of rain we’d gotten (6+ inches in just a few days.) But I decided on the way home that it was the perfect time to hire Andrew Hart to mow because I could pick him up, show him the ropes and then drop him on my way to the library. This all would have worked perfectly except it takes a string bean eleven year old much longer to mow than an adult. He wasn’t even half done when I needed to leave so I called his parents and arranged to have them pick him up. Cross that off the list. The next day was Friday and I planned to shop on my way out of Lincoln so I’d have everything I needed to finish the painting over the weekend.

That said, you just know it didn’t work out. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with an upset stomach but fought through it and was able to fall back asleep. But when I woke up a few hours later, my intestines were in an uproar. I went to work but only made it to 11:00 before having to leave. No Menard’s run, no HyVee. I bolted home and just sat for the rest of the day. The cramps subsided by mid afternoon but I wasn’t headed out of town just to get supplies. The heat and humidity had already set in so I just made a list of things I could do with what I had on hand. And I did get plenty done.

The totes are unpacked, the curtains washed and rehung, the shoe cubby is set up and pretty, my laundry is caught up, my refrigerator is stocked with food for the week and most of my chores got done. I never did leave the house between coming home early on Friday and leaving Monday morning but I managed to enjoy the weekend, avoid most of the heat and get a lot done. Not bad for Plan B.

Chocolate Orange Bread Pudding
4 slices of bread torn into small chunks (~4 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 tsp. orange extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix bread, sugar and eggs in 1.5 quart casserole. Nuke milk with baking chocolate for 5 minutes until milk is steaming and chocolate is melted. Add to bread mixture. Stir in extract and chips. Place casserole in a baking pan with 1" of hot water in bottom and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Enjoy warm or cold. Yum!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Week 25 - Did It Myself!

Before (see the green tinge?)---------------->After (MUCH better!)

I finally did it! I gave up on my painter and finished the painting (OK, almost finished) myself.

It was a normal week but nothing in my house felt normal. I knitted on Monday and Tuesday after work so took a night off on Wednesday and sat in my wreck of a family room watching TV online. Sitting in that room with furniture still pulled out from the walls looking at the funky colored walls was the last straw. I decided then and there that I couldn’t wait until the end of month for the painter to return so I would bite bullet and paint myself. That meant Friday I’d be at Menard’s duking it out over the “fixed” remix, which still wasn’t the right color.

I went straight to Menard’s after work on Friday with a big list of stuff to buy once my paint was redone. Can you spell bad service, readers? They begrudgingly gave me new paint, mixed using Pittsburg paint so it’d be the correct base. I then happily shopped, finding nearly everything on my list, most of which was too big for a bag. But when I got to my car, my paint brush was missing. I checked the cart again then went back in to ask if she had forgotten to give me a bag, which she of course denied. They, begrudgingly again, went and got me a new paint brush but when I got to my car I went through my receipt only to find there was another missing item. Back inside and this time they made me go find the item myself. In all of these “opportunities” for good service, only one person apologized for the inconvenience. Sheesh!

But I was home and ready to paint! I had a plan. I was going to do a wall at a time so I would not get into another situation of having nothing done. But once I moved all the furniture to the middle of the room and started cutting in, it became clear that I could do it all so I just kept going and did all the cutting in. I didn’t tape and couldn’t use an edger against the trim so I did the best I could and did lots of wiping up paint smears. I went to bed tired from all the up and down on the step stool and figuring I’d get 2 coats done the next day. But I couldn’t sleep and so found myself getting up at 11:00 and painting until after midnight, finishing the first coat in the dining area where my desk is. I slept like a rock!

By noon Sunday I had done a first coat everywhere and a second coat in the dining area. I did the 2nd coat in the rest of the room in late afternoon and then started cleaning the floor at the edges that are usually covered with furniture. When I was done with that, I started moving the furniture back to where it hadn’t been in almost two months. I left everything an inch from the walls but couldn’t tell. To me it looked normal. It was 7:30 and I’d gotten nothing much done except painting – no cooking and no chores – but my house felt normal again.

I took a shower and was ready to relax for a few hours when I remembered I had transcription work to do for Backyard Farmer – a new volunteer job for my master gardener hours. I checked my email and saw it was due by noon Monday so blazed up the online show and started editing the closed caption files they had sent. It was harder than it sounded when I signed up and I didn’t finish until after 11:00. Exhausted is not strong enough of a word to describe how I felt when I finally got to bed. Of course there was yet another thunder storm overnight (it had rained all weekend and most of the week too) to keep me from getting a good night’s sleep. That and the sore lip I had from the front tooth I managed to chip Friday night eating nachos. You got it – another exploding tooth and this one with no filling! But at least my house is back to normal. Life is good!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Week 24 - It's SO Close

How to describe a week that started with a 12 hour drive in one day to Valentine and back for your friend’s mother’s funeral, which just put everything into perspective? Hmmm….

Dale and Alan picked me up at 5:30 a.m. and we headed west. I was in the back of Dale’s truck and so took the opportunity to knit, starting as soon as the sun was up enough to see. We drove to Valentine, arrived at the church with ten minutes to spare – just enough time to give Nora a big hug and slip into the back pew. It was a nice service that ended with a great PowerPoint of Vera’s life that made me cry. We then had lunch in the church’s basement and were back on the road by 1:15. More knitting, some junk food for the road and five hours later I was at my door - a surreal day to say the least.

The rest of the week was normal in comparison. On Tuesday, a bunch of us from water aerobics went to Panera after the pool for salads and knitting. We had such a good time that we scheduled the same again for next week. Despite the late hour when we left, I headed to Menard’s to get the last of the paint for the house – the perfect yellow, arrived at by getting every yellow chip at 3 stores and painting sample squares on every wall in the back room.

Liz had hired someone to help her and had committed to finish by Friday. I was very excited at the prospect of getting my house back. And the white trim was looking fabulous, making every room pop. Every day I came home to progress but Thursday was special. My deck guys were coming to replace the storm door that had blown off last week. Plus Liz had said everything except the yellow would be done so I was excited to see it all. By the time I got home at 7:00, they were done and already gone. The door was shiny and white and heavy enough that it’d close every time and the paint looked great.

But the best thing was that when I went inside, what did I find sitting on the shelf by the door? My missing keys! I had completely given up on ever finding them, figuring if they were going to turn up, Liz would have found them weeks ago. I called her but she hadn’t found them. So I called Tim to see if they’d found them in the garage when they were getting the door. Nope. I was dying to know! So I called Liz and had her call her helper and call me back. I could not believe her answer. They had been on the spool shelf right inside the door the whole time! Now I had checked that shelf repeatedly when I lost the keys because that’s where I put them when I come in the door. I’d also moved the shelf many times when sweeping and hadn’t seen them. The painter said she thought they were on the bottom shelf with the canning jars, where I had looked but had obviously missed them, and had fallen off when she moved the shelf. I went from feeling ecstatic that they were found to feeling like an idiot because they’d been right there the whole time. But they were found and the next day my house would be done so I went to bed a happy camper.

You know what’s coming, don’t you? I was having a nice Friday when the phone rang at 11:00. Liz reported that she was painting with the yellow but when she got to the first test spot, she saw that the paint was nowhere near the color of the spot. It was much brighter – like school bus yellow bright. Having already lived for a month with bad yellow walls, I told her to stop. There was nowhere in Wahoo to color match the right yellow and I was in Lincoln with half a day more to work. After considering options, I had no choice but to send Liz on her way. She’d be back – wait for it – not Monday but a week from Monday. So yes, by the time my house is completely painted, it will have been 6 weeks to the day from the day she started A 10 DAY JOB! What did I do to deserve this? Apparently the clerk at Menard’s mixed the paint incorrectly so I was not going home to a finished house but the limbo would continue. While disappointed, I can’t say I was surprised. It’s just par for the course.

But at least the front half of the house was done so I was determined to reclaim at least that much. I spent the weekend moving furniture, hanging curtains, unpacking boxes and going through crap. I’ve touched every article of clothing I own except maybe the socks, ending with a huge pile for Goodwill and completely reorganized closets and drawers. I’ve begun another round of culling that will continue for awhile and will pave the way for a spate of decorating that’s long overdue. Will I have to wait to reclaim my kitchen and family room? Yes, but I’ll be smiling while I wait and in the long run it’ll all be worth it. I’ve included a picture of my bedroom decked out with Liberty of London bed linens, the first step towards a new and prettier look. Stay tuned for more. Life is good!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week 23 - Painter from Hell!

Tuesday dawned full of hope. The painter was coming and only had trim to do and it was a short work week. What a fool I was!

Tuesday was the first business day of the month so I did deans' reports and the day flew. I went to the pool for an ignoring-my-knee, full throttle workout and then planned to hit the market before heading home. But when we were in the pool, the sky got dark and the emergency broadcast system came over the radio with severe storm and hail warnings all around Lincoln. I took one look at the sky and decided to skip the market and head right home. It was pouring torrentially in Lincoln but I gradually drove out of it as I went north, hoping there hadn't been hail in Wahoo to pummel my freshly planted containers.

I needn't have worried about hail but apparently there was wind. I drove up to my house to find that the side storm door had been torn off its hinges, killing the door and damaging the siding in the process. My painter, who was already on my sh*t list, had not shut the door all the way when she left, thank you very much. Having gone through the exact same thing with my front door, I knew this would cost me hundreds of dollars. Needless to say, I was livid. I removed the door as I entered and went to check out the painter's progress. Yeah, right.

She was supposed to work the whole day because it was the only day she was working this week. So, what'd she do? Painted the trim around 1 window and primed 2 door jams and 2 doors. That's it! And what door did she leave covered with primer that comes off every time I touch it? The bathroom door, which is the only door in the house I really use, and that's despite me asking her to focus on a room and NOT on the hallway. Guess how pissed I was! So pissed that I couldn't fall asleep and when I finally did, I woke up at 3:30 and never fell back to sleep. No matter how much I told myself not to focus on it and get back to sleep, my mind went back to her inadequacies over and over. I finally got up at 4:30 and watched a documentary on Netflix to try and get my mind off it. I went to work exhausted and, you guessed it, still pissed. There was no way I was going to call her that day for fear my anger would transmit through the phone lines and make her permanently deaf in one ear (at least!)

I went through Wednesday in a fog and still didn’t feel like I could call her and be civil so figured I’d wait until Thursday. But after water aerobics on Thursday, I decided to go to Iron Man ALONE because I really wanted to see it on the big screen and couldn’t get anyone to go with me. I totally enjoyed it - fun and great dolby to boot. Anyway, by the time I got home it was too late to call so I left her voice mail Friday morning and waited for her call. Go figure, she didn’t call back! I stopped at Menard’s on the way home and bought a new screen door and my guys came to look at it and said they’d be back next Thursday to install it, which wouldn’t cost as much as I’d thought (I’m still out hundreds, mind you) so that was good.

She finally called Saturday. She had a list of excuses a mile long and I talked it all out with her and made it crystal clear I wasn’t happy. We left it that she would come back on Monday and do a full day’s work while I’m out of town at Nora’s mom’s funeral. I hung up feeling like there might be hope. I then spent a fun Saturday in Omaha shopping with Andrea. I scored a Liberty quilt and shams at Target on clearance so I can have new linens when my bedroom is finally done.

On Sunday I slammed through chores, went to Nancy’s in the afternoon to walk her gardens and suggest some plants and then headed home. I had decided that I would move all the furniture in the spare room so that all the baseboards were accessible. I moved both dressers into the living room and then decided I would just put all the living room furniture in the center of that room too. I then called my cleaning lady to see if she’d be willing to clean woodwork and walls when she comes on Tuesday. I figure if I prep everything for the painter, she might actually get some painting done. Every ridiculous excuse she had, I just negated. If I come home Monday night and there isn’t major work done, she’s is SO fired.

I’m headed to bed early since I’ll be on the road by 5:30 Monday morning, hopeful that the next time I blog, I’ll be talking about the completion of the paint job. That’s probably not going to happen but at least I know my door will be installed. I may have horrible luck with contractors but at least my deck guys are true to their word.