Friday, March 24, 2017

Undaunted Courage, Plus Yarn

I finally managed to buy our rail passes and make the reservations for every leg of the cross-country train trip Susie and I are planning to take. People, this was hard - I was trying to coordinate 7 train schedules with people I want to see and with available Airbnb places that looked clean and axe-murderer-less. I've had six thousand tabs open on my browser for a week, trying to figure it all out. Plus there was the hassle of not being able to make any of the train reservations online - when you buy one of the rail passes, you have to call the Amtrak reservation line, figure out the magic words to get past the automated reservation clerk, and then stay on hold for half an hour just to get to talk to someone who can make the reservations for you.

More complicated than it looks....
A daunting task for someone ultra-distractable like myself, but it is done! Well, except for the fact that all the Airbnb's in Seattle hiked their prices by hundreds of dollars over the Easter weekend, so we are still trying to figure that one out. It looks as though some of the hostels are family-friendly; maybe we'll try that.

Probably not Lewis and Clark's colors
I guess I should pack. But first, there's the dreaded Mulch Delivery Weekend, where I am still somehow obligated to help out with the food tent, despite my belief to the contrary. And there's our Metro Yarn Crawl, the same weekend as Mulch, which unfortunate confluence of events is engendering a very immature amount of resentment in me. AND I need to figure out what knitting to bring on the train trip. Socks, probably - socks all the way across the country and back. They're portable.

I bet Lewis and Clark brought socks to knit, also. AND complained about expensive Airbnbs. They probably left reviews like "That tepee was way overpriced, and no indoor plumbing...Will not portage my canoe here again."

Or, maybe not.






Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I Bought Napkins, But Not Really

Remember my finger, the one I injured by reliving my youth? It's doing fine, hardly any bruising, no obvious swelling, so I'm pretty sure I didn't break it, just jammed the knuckle. Luckily, the injury hasn't affected my doing yoga, or typing, or knitting. But it does hurt when I am scrubbing sinks or bathtubs, putting a fitted sheet on the bed, washing dishes...

I mention this for the purpose of pointing out that I may have inadvertently discovered the PERFECT injury.

Also, because my life wasn't complicated and expensive enough with all these renovations, etc., going on, we had to purchase new toilet plungers recently. Apparently the high-efficiency toilets we've installed have a differently shaped hole than the 45-year-old American Standard ones that we are used to.

I'm not sure how much more change I can handle here, actually.

Larry picked out the new toilet plungers, because I'm not THAT much of a control freak and also he hadn't even been to Home Depot that day. He bought the ones with MaxPerformance Technology. I'm so proud.

You know, it seems to me that "high-efficiency" toilets shouldn't ever need a plunger, actually. I feel ripped off.

Let's talk about World Market for a minute, okay? There's one a few towns away from me, but I've never managed to actually visit it. At least every other month, one of my friends will share/show off some interesting or tasty or unusual thing, and I'll say, "Where did you get that?" And they'll say, "World Market." And I'll say, "Gee, I really need to go there some time." And then I never do.

But last Friday, at a knitting get-together, I noticed a drawstring project bag one of my knitting friends was carrying. Constructed out of an attractive cotton fabric, with just a ribbon threaded through a top casing for a closure, it was the perfect size to carry an incipient pair of socks, say, or the beginnings of a crescent shawl. "Oh, where did you get that?" I asked. "It's pretty!"

"This thing? I just made it out of a napkin that was on sale at World Market," she said, way too modestly.

(Let's note here that I have really creative friends, okay?)

So that's how I finally found myself inside a World Market today, asking some helpful sales clerk where the napkins were. He helped me find them.



I restrained myself and only bought six. Project bags for everyone, coming right up! Or that's the plan, anyway...






Monday, March 20, 2017

Gimme Three Steps...

I was jogging this morning (well, walking with a few short intervals of jogging thrown in, if you need precision there) and thanking the powers that be that I spotted my neighbor's new sneakers the other day. You see, a few months ago, I bought a pair of sneakers at Costco, because I thought MAYBE I would try using them to, oh I don't know, EXERCISE in. Then I put them in my closet and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Because, hey - I do yoga. In bare feet. I do my core exercises. In bare feet. I've hiked mountains at Acadia in my Teva sandals (drives Larry crazy, but hey, it worked). I don't need sneakers to exercise.

And then I went into the city with my son the other day. We saw the Metro train pulling in to the station and decided to run for it. So there I was, feeling every one of my 53 years as I panted toward the escalator at a run (read, slow jog), while my 16-year-old son loped easily along beside me, not breaking a sweat.

It was demoralizing, to say the least.

So I decided that I would work up to running a mile. That's all. No desire here to do marathons (so much wasted knitting time!). I just wanted the ability to run for a train without causing passersby to wonder if they should call 911. Is that too much to ask?

Most mornings this month, after I get up IN THE DARK (I hate you, Daylight Saving Time) to let in the handyman (whose cat gets him up at 4 AM), I've smooshed myself into my power pants and my Wacoal sport bra, laced up my Costco sneakers, and headed out to jog (a little), walk (a lot), and generally just get my heart rate up for a couple of minutes at a time.

It's been hard, I won't lie. I hate it. But I do feel better afterwards, and I am already able to jog a teeny bit further. And no one has called the EMTs on me yet, so that's a plus.

Purple! 
OMG, I'm long-winded today. All this to explain why, when I saw my friend's running sneakers, I realized that I needed their obviously superior support. I mean, I LOVE Costco, but the sneakers I had were not doing it. So I splurged and spent $80 (and that was on SALE) for these special Brooks running sneakers at Amazon. I hated to do it. I had to keep reminding myself that $80 was less than the (at least) 3 doctor appointment co-pays that would be in my future, should I ruin my knees and feet in cheap shoes.

Do you see the mental machinations I have to go through every time I spend money? We HAVE the money now, but years of needed frugality and penny-pinching die hard.

I can't stop talking today. Oh, well...

So, yeah, these sneakers were worth every penny. I can run further. My knees don't hurt. The support is great. Which got me to thinking that it would be a useful PSA to tell women under 45 or 50 that they need to save extra money for when they are older. I mean, maybe you think, "Yeah, I know - retirement, medical bills, trips to see the grandkids..."

Note drywall dust caked onto the floor, upper right 
But that's not what the money is for. The money is for shoes, so you can walk. Seriously. We're talking support. We're talking wide toe boxes. We're talking expensive. I have spent more money on shoes since I turned 47 or so than I had spent in my entire life up to that point. I have to assume I'll be spending $80 to $100 a pair (unless I chance on some FitFlops in my size at Nordstrom Rack, priced at $45 - helloooo, bargain!)

This is a lifestyle change that has been hard for my frugal soul to accept. But without my FitFlops and my Dansko/Sanita clogs and (now) my spiffy Brooks sneakers, I can't get around. My legs get tired, my knees hurt, my right foot goes numb.

Good Lord, I am not even 60 yet. Listen to me, I sound 85. Or, at least, without my price-y shoes, I sound 85. So don't think of them as shoes - think of them as a budget version of the Fountain of Youth. Looking at it that way, the expensive footwear is a downright bargain.

Or that's what I tell myself, anyway...

And today's title is courtesy of this earworm emanating from our handyman's radio at 7:30 this morning:












Friday, March 17, 2017

When East Meets West

My finger still hurts. It's not broken if I can bend it normally, right? Because, really, why go to the doctor when I can just ask a bunch of perfect strangers for medical advice?

I hate going to the doctor. I am convinced I'll pick up some deadly disease (or at least a highly inconvenient one) while I am there.

Also, that picture in the previous post was of an ice pack covering my afflicted appendage. I only mention this because a friend messaged me and asked what it was. She said, and I quote, that it looked like it "...was encased in some sort of metal bullet-type case and you were ready to stab people with it."

This sort of comment makes me wonder what my friends really think of me.

Rarely seen snowman skeleton
In other news, our two days of winter are over. The snow is melting, which is a good thing, because then I can't foolishly injure myself by reliving my youth. So now I have to start thinking about that train trip and planning exact dates and all. There will be a couple of AirBnB stays involved, because Amtrak is not obliging me by having the trains arrive in major cities early in the morning and then leaving again at night. That was the original plan, see - arrive in a city, look around, hop back onto the train and ride overnight, thus saving money on lodgings.

That's not going to happen. East Coaster that I am, I had no idea that there could be major cities where the train stops only once or twice a day. This blows my mind. I mean, have you seen the Amtrak schedule for trains running between DC and New York? There are at least a dozen each day.

I don't understand how the West Coast works, actually. Do you all drive everywhere? Fly? Or maybe you're all so healthy, you just bike? I feel as though I am an anthropologist, heading off to do field work. How do the natives live?




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Cautionary Tale

It might seem like a good idea to recapture your youth by joining your kids on the sledding hill and flying down an ice-covered slope as though you are only half your age. But you're NOT half your age, and you'll prove it by injuring yourself in stupid ways. Jamming your finger, for instance, by placing it down in a frozen footprint as your sled is going approximately 30 mph, in an ineffective (and injurious) attempt to slow down.

OW.

It's HARD to take a picture with my left hand.
So I trudged back up the hill and took my tired, broken old body back to the house. The kids, however, stayed out a few more hours and came home with nary a scratch. Because they're young, unlike me.

Ice and ibuprofen are my friends right now. I don't think my finger's broken, and I am even still able to knit (oddly enough); but almost everything else I do hurts. Hurts my finger AND my pride, actually.

So, what else? We (well, our handyman, actually) applied the first coat of paint in the basement, and OMG it's bright. It looks downright radioactive. I'm waiting for Larry to come home before we even attempt a second coat. We might have to cover the whole thing with a different color. I don't know. I don't care. I'm done with paint.






Monday, March 13, 2017

Paint Colors? What Paint Colors?

In a highly unnatural state of organizing fervor a few weeks ago, I deleted a slew of emails from my inbox in one fell swoop. There, I thought, I didn't need any of those. I'm a normal person now, a person without 10,000 emails sitting in her inbox.

Only I did need at least one of those messages. Remember upnitestx, the lucky reader who won a copy of the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules? Remember how I pestered her for a week or two to please email me her address so I could send her prize to her? And, being an obliging sort of soul who wanted to read the book she had won, she did as I asked.

Wouldn't it have been nice if I had sent that book right away? Because then I wouldn't be in the embarrassing position I am in right now, which is that of begging her once again to email me her address.

So upnitestx, if you're even still reading this blog, please resend me that address so I can mail you the book. And I promise I won't delete it again.

Clock at the DMV - abandon all hope, ye who enter here
David is visiting this week. I took him to the DMV this morning so he could take his driver's test. He needed to get his license so he could buy our old minivan from us and drive it back down to school. We decided to charge him the trade-in value for the van, which was $1250 (we like the kids to have some skin in the game when it comes to cars - they pay their own insurance, too). "But first," said Larry, "I'm going to have its yearly inspection done and have the garage look it over."

Yeah, he might as well have said to the guys at the garage, "Hey, would you please take my money?" By the time I got the van back, we were $1242 poorer, what with cracked rear bushings and worn-out sway bar links and all.

$8 - we made $8 on that van. I'm thinking we should host a TV show - something like those popular real estate shows, right? But instead of flipping houses, we flip cars. And instead of making any money, we end up in the poorhouse. Think of it - viewers could take bets on how much money we will lose on each deal.

I think I've found our niche.

And, no, I still do not want to talk about paint.






Thursday, March 09, 2017

First Rule Of Paint Club

You know why it's Thursday and I haven't posted in 3 days? Because I do NOT want to talk about paint. AT ALL.

Our handyman kept showing up earlier and earlier all week. It was as if he was testing me, seeing when I would break. But hey, I was raised on stories of Anne Frank hiding from the Nazis - I don't break so easy. I kept on getting up earlier and earlier to unlock the door. HE'S NOT GOING TO BEAT ME.

Larry has been away all week, which is normally sort of relaxing: I don't sweat dinner as much (not that I do normally, come to think of it), I go to bed when I want without worrying about waking him up, I've got yarn strewn all over the bed (that is SO normal, shut up). It's like a mini-vacation, although for the life of me, I don't know why.

But David is coming home from college tonight, we've had a variety of dental appointments this week for the kids, Brian and Rachel have needed close to a zillion rides, and every client I have (well, 2, but it seems like a lot) unexpectedly needed me to drive them somewhere, also. I keep saying to myself, "This is nothing. You used to have 6 kids ages 13 and under at home. You homeschooled them, for heaven's sake. You cooked 3 meals a day, every day, because your oldest had a dairy allergy. There were mountains of laundry. You never had a good night's sleep. THAT was hard. NOW is easy."

Let's look at some pretty yarn and feel better, okay?
Easy - but I still feel as if I am going in 16 different directions and dropping a lot of balls. All I know is - today alone - I left milk in my car for 3 hours; I dashed out to the grocery store without my phone and then couldn't remember if I had accidentally turned the stove on under a pan of oil before I left (I didn't, whew); and I completely flipped out when Rachel, as I was driving her home from her after-school rehearsal, said "I KNOW" in a shut-up tone of voice that made me want to strangle her (again, I didn't, but it was close).

I sound stressed, but really, I just can't accept that as a possibility (see above re NOW is easy). This is all small potatoes (well, except for that potential house fire - that would have been bad). I'm thinking maybe I hate driving, which is unfortunate, as my job description is essentially one word: DRIVING. Or maybe it's just the unresolved paint thing gnawing at my subconscious.

We're NOT going to talk about it. Just, NO.




Monday, March 06, 2017

A Lighter Shade Of Teal

Okay, I might not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but I sense that the person who sent me an email the other day may not really have read my blog. She wrote (and I quote):

From what I can tell, you are a trusted expert in the camping, climbing & hiking industry and the 1000s of brands/retailers on Hubba will want to connect and work with you.

Really, do ANY of the posts at this link scream "trusted expert" to you? Or do they say, hey, maybe this particular blogger should never be allowed into the wilderness alone?

Madness. Sheer MADNESS.
You know where else I shouldn't be allowed alone? A paint store, that's where. In the continuing saga of Larry Renovates the Basement, I am expected to find a paint color that will make everyone happy. This is getting as bad as when we did our cheap-o kitchen renovation - remember? With all the paint stripes on the walls and our neighbors coming in and voting and our handyman pretty much picking the color for us?

Good times, people. Good times...

Still, the kitchen does look fantastic. I don't know if we are going to be as successful this time around, however. Larry wants some sort of deep teal. We are painting the brick fireplace and hearth white, so that might work, but the kids say the teal (well, teals - we have a number of them on our wall now) are too dark for the rest of the room. Andy (our handyman, remember?) says the space is too big to be all one color; we need to break it up with a contrast wall (except that's not what it's called - what's it called, dammit?). I agree with Andy, but Brian (who does have a pretty good visual sense) thinks we're both wrong.

Accent wall - that's the word I was looking for. ACCENT.

So yeah, stay tuned for the big reveal - will the family go for jade garden? Or will tropicana cabana win the day? And will the handyman ever get his accent wall? All these questions and more will be answered...sometime....I don't really know when, actually.

You know, white's a nice color. How about some nice basic white?



Saturday, March 04, 2017

Mystery Shopper


Where were YOU on 26 Nov 2016? 
Look to the right, there. I found this receipt in an otherwise-empty bag in my room. I am puzzled, because - to the best of my knowledge - I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO THIS YARN SHOP. I don't even LIVE in Pennsylvania. Does this mean that, unbeknownst to myself, I've been frequenting yarn stores two states away and buying things there? Could that possibly explain how all this yarn ended up in my bedroom?

Actually, that might be a good excuse to give to Larry...or maybe HE's buying yarn now? What's going on here, anyway?

Susie has been sick since Tuesday. Same thing every day, no better, no worse: "weird" headache, sore throat, cough. It feels like Groundhog Day. I've watched more TV in the past week than I've watched in a year.

Turns out Susie really likes The Dick Van Dyke Show. That kid has good taste, right?


Last night Brian and Rachel semi-willingly watched The Front with Larry and I. One of those rare movies that Woody Allen stars in but didn't write or direct, it has aged well (it doesn't hurt that its topic is the blacklisting that ran rampant during the McCarthy era - just substitute Muslim for Communist and you've got a pretty good civics lesson there). Plus, Zero Mostel is fantastic in it - I would watch it just for him.

What I am saying is, watch this film. Even the teens were laughing at the funny lines (no one plays nebbish as well as Woody Allen), and the movie says a lot about a part of American history we seem poised to repeat today.




Not finished yet...


And, in a sharp U-turn away from politics (because, hey, we see enough of that on Facebook, right?), here are some pictures of my under-reconstruction laundry room. The image to the right shows off our washer and dryer in their brand new spot, with the discounted utility sink nestled up against them. Cozy!

Note the attractively spackled drywall in the background and the strategically placed paint-stained stepladder to the right. This ladder, my friends, happens to symbolize both our upward-aspiring renovation plans and the messiness that is their reality. It belongs to our handyman, so we'll just regard it as his silent commentary on our whole cockamamie basement project.




Not quite Pinterest-ready

The picture on the left? That represents the small section of flooring Larry managed to peel and stick on the plywood the night before the plumbers showed up to move the washer. Let me assure you, this was not a fun weeknight activity, especially under pressure. I'm betting that during this particular project, Larry revisited more than once the ill-advised optimism with which he first became a homeowner, an optimism that has been repeatedly doused with the cold water of reality (see above, re paint-stained stepladder).

Larry is leaving town next week. He says it's a business trip, but I'm thinking that - at this point - the thought of doing the rest of the floor might just be too much for him, poor man.





Tomorrow? Pictures of all the paint samples on the walls of the basement. I'm telling you, this family knows how to have fun.








Friday, March 03, 2017

The 1980s Really Did Rock

Me? Just sitting here at the computer, Susie curled up behind me in the armchair in the den, coughing and languishing, both of us being regaled by the sound of "I Love Rock and Roll" wafting up from the basement. Before that, it was "I'll Stop the World and Melt With You."

Yes, our handyman and his radio are still here. The past two days, he has been joined by 2 very nice gentlemen from a local plumbing company, who are only too glad to earn lots of money moving all our pipes in the laundry room so that we can have the washer/dryer on a different wall. But, hey, we got a good deal on the new utility room sink, so there's that.

Floor model, 20% off!

But the reason I REALLY like the plumbers?  At one point yesterday, they were running the water in the kitchen sink, waiting for it to get hot. Waiting...and waiting...and waiting...until finally one of them turned to me and said, "What is UP with this thing?" When I told him our water heater woes, he said, "You have to flush the lines. That'll solve it."

Yeah, if I could figure out how to do that. Or if Larry would remove the items he shoved into the furnace closet when he emptied the laundry room, so that I could get the HVAC guy out here to do it. Anyway, it's nice to have an answer. And if anyone had told me a tankless water heater would be high maintenance, I wouldn't have bought one. We never had to think about our old-style water heater at all (well, except that time its thermocoupler up and quit).

I know one of you is going to comment and say it's really easy to flush the lines. I'll have you know I just looked it up on WikiHow, and believe me, this is NOT my skill set. Now, if I needed to yarn bomb my water heater, that would be right up my alley.




I'm signing off to the strains of  "White Wedding," so I'll share that with you.  You're welcome.





Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Flu And Flue

There's been a lot of this lately
Susie's sick, for like the 3rd time in 4 weeks, to the point where I couldn't even take her to the doctor now if I wanted to, because I can't remember what happened when and I don't want to look negligent. But it does look as though this one she has now might be the flu. Let me not dwell too long on the fact that this is the FIRST year I managed to get Susie a flu shot, okay?

Anyhow, this afternoon, I took to my bed, because my head felt weird and my arms were heavy and I thought I was coming down with it, also. I lay there for about an hour, composing in my head the farewell blog post I would dictate to my husband once he got home, and then I got back up, because I wasn't sick enough to stay lying down.

I can't even do the flu right.

Photo of child's artwork, just because 
So I am feeling meh, but not awful, which is a good thing, because Larry is demanding I go to Home Depot tonight to pick out a utility room sink because the plumbers are coming tomorrow to reroute pipes and move our washer and dryer to the outside wall. This is a triumphant occasion for Larry, who has spent 20 years hating the fact that the dryer vent pipe has to travel all the way across the laundry room before it exits the house. Its length has caused all sorts of problems (excessive lint buildup, condensation, to name two), the result of which is he has spent more time maintaining that stupid pipe than he has on the rest of the house.

Okay, I'm happy about it, too, I'll admit it. That pipe has been a thorn in our sides for long enough. I am looking forward to an existence free of nagging Larry to dismantle it and clean it out AGAIN so that the dryer will once again be able to dry our clothes.

I can't believe we've been homeowners for 20 years. I thought that was for old people.

Oh, wait...

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