Saturday, May 14, 2022

Now I Whistle While I Work

The vanity - the long-lost vanity - arrived while Larry and I were away camping and, to tell the truth, I had already assumed I would never see it. But show up it did, so Wednesday I managed to get it out of its box (NOT EASY) and stand it up in the powder room.


The prodigal bathroom cabinet

"That's it, huh?" Larry asked.

"YES, IT IS," I said, and he knew to offer no opinions, smart guy that he is, even though it looks as though the sink is too small to wash his hands in.

I called the plumber and set up an appointment for Friday. I called our handyman, and he came over the next morning to look at it and make sure it would be ready for the plumber to hook up. Also, to get the $100 I still owed him, in case you're wondering why I get such good service...

"Hmmm, no," he said.

"NO?"

And he proceeded to show me how the cute little shelf and drawer and soap holder inside the cabinet - the features I had so lovingly picked out and waited for - would get in the way of hooking it up to the plumbing. And the cute little legs were too narrow for him to notch out space for them to fit around the baseboard tile.

"Just pick out a different one, like this," he said, randomly pointing to one on the Home Depot website, unaware of the more than 6 HOURS I had spent picking out the first one. I'll admit it, I felt somewhat smug when he realized that the one he chose would actually be too deep. 

"Oh, well," he said, walking out the door with his money, "just find one the right dimensions and call me when it arrives!" 

I'm probably gonna get another pedestal sink and shove it in there, I don't know.

But let us stop dwelling on renovation failures and instead revel in the renovation success I forgot to mention in the last post: the handyman - in the middle of that whole painting the den and the powder room episode - managed to TRANSFORM my kitchen. 

You see, last year I trash-picked the 4 deep kitchen drawers from our old house (2 doors down, same original cabinets) when the new owners there decided to redo their kitchen. I wasn't sure where I could put them, but our genius handyman thought to use the blank space between 2 cabinets (where we have always kept the large, big-family trash can) to build a cabinet for those drawers and somehow seemingly double the storage space in my vintage kitchen. 

The miracle of the scavenged drawers

Also? It looks really cute. And vintage - did I mention vintage?

Finally I can store my aluminum foil and plastic wrap in a drawer deep enough not to get caught on their boxes every time I open it. Finally, I have the newly emptied shallow drawer for all my silverware (which has been hanging out in a silverware holder on my counter for a few years now). Finally, I have drawers deep enough to hold dish towels and napkins and also things like water bottles and salad tongs and whisks. No more rummaging in overcrowded cabinets looking for the "too fat" utensils or the lid to a water bottle. Everything has a home now, and it is a beautiful sight to see.

A place for my potato ricer - a dream come true

Having a drawer for the dish towels and napkins freed up an entire pantry shelf - you know, the shelf where the kitchen linens resided in old cloth Target bins that had definitely seen better days? So now that shelf in the pantry can hold a whole bunch of stuff that didn't have a place in the kitchen before or was hard to reach.

I used to have to excavate those bowls from underneath a pile of water bottles

Because installing the drawers took away the spot for our (huge, 20-year-old) trash can, the handyman installed - in the cabinet next to our sink - one of those Simple Human garbage/recycling pull-out rack thingies with the cute little trash bin and the even cuter little recycling bin. 


OMG, I love this SO MUCH

Larry took one look at those adorable little receptacles and said, "THAT won't work. We have lots of trash. And stuff will get spilled inside the cabinet."

Because Larry thinks we still have a passel of feral kids living with us, I guess.

Folks, this overpriced piece of equipment has CHANGED MY LIFE. And no, nothing has spilled, and I no longer have to travel to the other end of the kitchen to dispose of a piece of recycling, and no more do I have to wrestle with the huge garbage can that never, ever wanted to let go of the full trash bag inside it. I feel as though animated little bluebirds are flying around my head as I stand at the sink and simply reach over a teeny bit to throw out trash and dispose of recycling, and then reach just a teeny bit the other way to put the compost in its countertop container. SO EFFICIENT.

Who knew The Container Store would have my happily ever after? WHO KNEW?

[NOT a sponsored post, and also, I had a nice coupon, thank goodness]



Friday, May 06, 2022

LOLOLOLOL

Whoops, looks as though I missed April there! For good reason, though - you see, after that last post in mid-March, I was sucked into the hell that is household renovations. Oh, nothing major, really - just repaint the powder room, replace the pedestal sink with a small vanity, and repaint Rachel's old bedroom and put a sleeper couch in there. I had visions of a serene and cozy den and a freshened-up half-bath, and really, how hard is it to paint two rooms, pick out a sink, and get a sleeper couch from IKEA?

LOLOLOLOL

Before I could pick out the color for the serene and cozy den, I had to pick out the couch, and it turns out that "supply chain problems" happen to be a real thing. Essentially, we ended up with the couch color that happened to be available (bright blue), so my plans changed from "serene and cozy" to "whimsically cheerful," and I actually managed to pick out a vibrant yellow paint to go with it. ON THE FIRST TRY. 

See? Whimsical. Also, Ukraine-themed, I guess

Awesome, I thought, I'm on a roll. The old me - you know, the person who would end up buying a zillion paint samples and painting a zillion stripes on a wall and still have to ask her handyman which color to use? - was obviously gone, replaced by a new, savvier person who could march into a paint store, say "I want that one," and walk out victorious.

LOLOLOLOL

The powder room, it turns out, has a  tile floor whose color was apparently created in the bowels of hell. Try a bluish paint? The floor looked too green. Try a greenish paint? The floor looked too blue. NOTHING WORKED. 

Blue? Green? WHO KNOWS?

Larry tried to help by pointing out that no matter what we chose, it was better than the rag-daubed paint scenario we had been living with for the past 15 years, but I was beyond rational thought at that time. Also, the kids were upset because they didn't want the old paint job covered up - turns out, finding "pictures" in the crazy pattern on the walls was an important part of their childhood. This also explains why they always took so long in that bathroom, I guess?

You don't see the pictures? Good, neither do I

I cried a lot and finally settled on a greenish paint that didn't clash with the floor too much but was still probably all wrong. And when the handyman started applying that paint, it immediately looked blue, so much so that I was checking the labels on the paint cans and the samples to make sure we hadn't mixed things up. 

But then it looked green. 

No, blue. 

No, green. 

Reader, I NAILED IT. That paint had the same chameleon-like quality as the floor and I still can't tell you what color it is, but it works.

That was over a month ago, and I would love to show you a photo of the finished powder room, I really would, but the vanity never showed up (because, I guess, supply chain problems are a real thing). And the handyman wouldn't hang the mirror before putting in the vanity, so really, can I even call it a powder room, if there's nothing to look into as one powders their nose? 

So we call it the outhouse instead. This was maybe not so amusing to the houseguests we hosted for a week mid-April, but hey - the Hilton we're not. At least they got toilet paper and not a Sears Roebucks catalog...

We DID have a working dishwasher, though, there's that. Home Depot refunded me my money, as promised, and - by getting a cheaper version at Best Buy - I managed to lose only $200 on the whole deal. I love my dishwasher, because I was able to have it installed before the houseguests arrived and it washed all the dishes that entire crazy week and it hasn't even broken yet.

This pic makes me feel weepy with joy, it does

It was Auntie Kate and her husband who came to visit (which is what spurred the whole renovation thing in the first place), and David decided to fly in from Washington that week, as he hadn't seen either of them in 8 years. And then Theo changed his travel plans to be back in the area in time to see them, too, and then Brian started feeling a bit left out and came home from school for the weekend. Meaning, we ended up with all 6 kids here for Easter, which is why we really needed that sleeper couch in the new (whimsically cheerful) den. 

It's an awesome couch, by the way. Sometimes I just go in there and sit on it and bask in the peacefulness of an (as yet) uncluttered room.


I can sleep on it, too! Whimsically, of course...

So all that is why most of March and April are a blur. After the houseguests left, Larry and I took the van for a 2-day trip - we went bicycling in a town 3 hours south of here and managed to eat at two different breweries during our travels (hey, beats slaving over a camp stove). I was also dragged on an unpleasant hike to a very nice view, which made me realize that Acadia National Park has spoiled me. Most hikes elsewhere (including this one) are just a slog through the buggy, muddy woods until you get to the top, where you finally get to look around, often perched precariously on some slanty, uncomfortable rocks. 

Not really worth it, IMO

In Acadia, on the other hand, you get views all the way up, there are amazing rock formations and tiny trees and interesting plants to look at as you walk, and then the top is usually a nice wide summit with lots of flat rocks to picnic on. Also? Just unbelievable vistas.

Now THAT's more like it

At our first campground, the campsite - you know, the one that looked so close to the bathrooms on the (apparently inaccurate) campground map - was perched on a hill overlooking a ravine, beyond which were the flush toilets, so that was fun. At the second campground we again had a long walk to the toilets, which only made it more clear that Larry is angling for any insurance money he has riding on my imminent demise, because BOTH NIGHTS, when I had to venture out at about 3 AM to use the bathroom, he woke up, essentially said, "Good luck with that," and rolled back over to sleep. 

Nice. I would have resigned myself to this lack of chivalry just fine, except BOTH NIGHTS, as I left the toilet and headed back into the dark, I was startled by the flashlight of another camper heading to the bathroom, and IT WAS LARRY.

I guess he figured I'd satiate any wild beasts out there and then he could go safely, I don't know.

Larry sitting by the campfire, thinking about how to spend the insurance money

Please do take a moment to note how Larry and I were able to just take off on a little trip like a couple of young, crazy kids, will you? That was possible because (drum roll, please) SUSIE GOT HER DRIVER'S LICENSE. That's right folks, for the first time in over 30 years, I am not tied to a child's schedule. 

This freedom feels incredible, even though - to be honest - it's not even a freedom I need right now. You see, the theory was that by this point in time I would have a full-time job and Susie would need to be independent, transportation-wise.

LOLOLOLOL

No one wants to hire me. NO ONE. Not even with my new, younger resume. I have tried jobs in my field, customer service jobs a little lower down the totem pole, and - in a fit of pique - retail.

I am still not employed.  I might just go insane with boredom. It's not as if I don't have hobbies and things to do, of course. But hobbies are only fun when you are really busy otherwise and have to fit them in. They're not fun as your entire life. At least, not for me. Something new, with new people to meet and new things to learn, is really what I need.

Also, spring azaleas. Everyone needs spring azaleas.

Oh, and I almost forgot the biggest news: Theo and his girlfriend have announced their engagement. Be aware, they've been dating (off and on again) since 2018. They currently live in the same apartment complex and see each other daily. A frequent topic of conversation among family members is when in the world will they decide to get married or at least move in together (hey, we've been bored, what with COVID and all that). But still, when Theo announced on the family group chat that they had become engaged, both Susie and myself - from opposite corners of the house - screamed OMG, as if we never would have thunk it.

Emotions are weird, I guess is my point. Weirder even than paint colors.



Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Resumé Of Eternal Youth

 Oh, look, it's spring! Sort of...

Poor things will have snow on them by Saturday

The weather can't make up its mind, which is standard for March around here. I do not want to leave February behind without giving credit where credit is due: Larry (unlike last year) absolutely won Valentine's Day 2022. I don't have photos, so you'll have to just believe me when I say that he planned ahead, going to a specific deli in town to pick up authentic New York Italian bakery cookies, a box of fancy wrapped chocolates, AND (believe it or not) a Valentine's Day card with a camping theme, into which he glued a picture of our camper he had printed.

I KNOW, right? This all made me look particularly bad, since - even though I had picked up some sweets for him way ahead of time - I was reduced to rummaging through the junk in my desk the night before to find (amazingly enough) a Valentine's Day card (unused) from ALDI last year. Oh, he was smug! And I don't blame him.

Unfortunately, we've still got this going on, SINCE JANUARY:

Dishwasher remains broken

Home Depot has offered to buy me out (i.e., give me the original purchase price plus tax of my dishwasher), since one of the parts they ordered isn't expected until April and who knows if that will ever really show up, global affairs being what they are, and hey, I am NOT going through WWIII without a dishwasher, dammit. 

...to buy a dishwasher

So I looked up what dishwashers cost now, and - even if I buy the cheap Best Buy house brand - I'll still be out about $200 anyway, once installation and haul away and a new protection plan are purchased. This is, to be honest, discouraging, but I guess I'll end up paying it. SOMEONE's got to keep this economy going, and it looks as though that someone? Is me.

After a month of handwashing dishes and trying to convince my kids that one of them should accompany me in the camper van to visit Uncle Matt in Florida, I set off on my own (with a promise from Anna that she'd stay at our house a few days to make sure Larry ate something other than roasted peanuts for dinner), and you know what? It was really fun! The camper is cozy to sleep in, and - since I can just lock myself in for the night - feels super safe, even when I am alone.

Woke up to a marvelous South Carolina sunrise

I haven't gone away in February since, oh, 1988, when I went to Florida for Navy basic training. So I knew intellectually that things are warmer down south this time of year, but somehow I was still pleasantly surprised to arrive in Georgia and see people wandering around in shorts and eating ice cream outdoors and generally enjoying life. IN FEBRUARY.

It's enough to make me a southerner, I'll tell ya.

I visited my brother's new house and marveled at the palm trees and exotic wildlife and went biking with him on the shore road that he swore had no traffic (but it did, PLENTY) to the park that he said was only 6 miles away (more like 10, I quit at 8.5 - I just wasn't used to the heat). I used the (blessedly car-free) sidewalk to bike back to our parking spot, a sidewalk populated by many geriatric pedestrians you couldn't just yell "PASSING LEFT" at without giving them a heart attack, so it was slow going, but I made it. Barely.

Susie calls these "Dr. Seuss trees," and she's right

And then I drove even farther south to visit some friends/neighbors who had moved to the Miami area a few years ago. The husband showed off his nifty solar system he'd had installed on the house, and I showed off my nifty camper van, and we were both suitably impressed by each other's new toy. They drove me to Key Biscayne, which was beautiful (do I have any good pictures? NO) and only reinforced my newfound notion that people down south really know how to live (at least, in February).

Also, their house was adorable and surrounded by the local wildlife:

Peacocks, loose, in the street - it's insane

All of this visiting and seeing new places was fun. The trip home? SO MUCH DRIVING. True, it wasn't any more driving than I had done on the way down, but somehow it seemed longer heading back. Maybe because I had no time left to stop somewhere else warm and fun. Instead, it was just a slow (and expensive - those gas prices!) slog back to the wintry north.

The most notable occurrence during the return trip was that I ended up in an RV park the first night, parked next to a miniature horse named Flash. I don't quite understand it. Georgia, I guess.

Luckily, you don't smell manure when you're inside a camper van

The second night I picked a nice quiet campground in North Carolina (with heated bathrooms, thanks be to God, because temps were dropping, and no livestock), and everything was perfect until the Boy Scout troop showed up. Still, I can't complain, as it was another comfy night in my camper van (have I mentioned my camper van?), with me all snuggled in with my heated mattress pad and my cozy blanket. Especially since there were those heated bathrooms...


My cozy nest (forgot my pillow, though)

I came home the next day to find the house still standing and Larry well fed, with leftovers in the fridge, so apparently I can get away with leaving home again. Which I might, since the dishwasher is still broken and prospective employers continue to not hire me (or even respond to my applications).  

In an attempt to remedy the unemployment situation, I spent this past Sunday revamping my resume to remove any hint of my age, so now anyone reading it would guess I'm maybe 35. What's silly is that I FEEL younger whenever I look at it. I'm an honest-to-God millennial, now, albeit without the typical millennial problems, I guess.

Larry and I aren't far from looking like this, actually

So now I am busy reapplying to a bunch of jobs and planning my next getaway should I (and my millennial resume) remain unwanted. Not sure how I'll pay for that gas, though...




Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Even Rice Krispie Treats Can Turn On You

 Hi! Not sure what happened to January - I guess I spent the whole month still learning to cook for two and doing my daily exercise videos (because, sorry, I don't jog fast enough to stay alive in 20-degree weather) and scrambling frantically to find a new plow guy for our neighborhood (signed the contract at 10 AM the morning of our first snow, if you want to know how close I cut that one). 

Seriously, I don't know why anyone lets me be in charge of anything around here. 

All my snow pictures came out really Ansel Adams looking

Oh, and I've been washing dishes, because guess what? The dishwasher (you know, the one that is less than 2 years old?) is broken. I'll give it credit - it kept going for 15 whole months after the previous repair, through a houseful of people and multiple holiday gatherings (including 2 Thanksgivings and Christmases). It waited until a celebration-free month with only 3 people in the household to conk out on me again, and for that I will be forever grateful. The bar is really low around here, I guess.

Luckily, we had bought the protection plan (because, yeah, we've been down this road before) (MANY TIMES) and the service people told me that it should be only a week or so to get the parts they think it needs, which sure as heck beats the 6-8 weeks it took in 2020, so I can't find it in my heart to complain about that, either. Maybe I'm just getting mellow in my old age. Or beaten down, really. It's like raising too many teens. The first one you're all "You're not leaving the house wearing that!" By the last one, you're just sending her internet memes making fun of her pants.


And I just got lost down memory lane by searching on "dishwasher" in this blog and looking for the right posts to link to in that last paragraph. Turns out, I have practically an entire book's worth of essays detailing the havoc wreaked on this household by malfunctioning appliances. Appliance stories - is there a market for that? Maybe it could be a subgenre of romance novels? Lord knows my heart has been broken multiple times by the shiny false promises of these unpredictable machines.

Or maybe I should just get a real job. Lord knows I'm trying, but no one wants me. Which situation is particularly demoralizing in a time of record low unemployment, etc. I mean, they must REALLY not want me. I even persevered and earned the Google IT Support Professional certificate, which I found doesn't so much qualify me to be a true IT person as it makes me someone who can almost understand what the IT guy is trying to tell me. But it does look nice and new and shiny on my resume, so there's that.

I am most certainly NOT competent

We had an unfortunate incident with Rice Krispie treats recently, wherein the marshmallows congealed too much and we ended up with an inedible mass shaped strangely like West Virginia. Susie insists that this was due to the fact that she had to use the regular-size marshmallows and not the mini ones. I informed her that in my day we only had the regular-size ones and we had to melt them while walking to school uphill in the snow and they still came out okay. Susie was unconvinced, but what does she know?

Gen Z'ers can't HANDLE the regular-size marshmallows

Oh, and a bunch of you had questions about our new camper van! It's made by Recon Campers, which is owned by a guy who is trying to replicate what is apparently quite common all over Europe - a small van that will fit in a city parking place or a garage but which can also be used to travel and sleep in. I guess Americans tend to go for the larger type of RV, but he is still finding quite a market among US urbanites who can't park a bigger vehicle or a trailer anywhere.

One owner called it the "Swiss Army knife of camper vans"

There are some videos on the website, and here is a video made by a Recon Envy owner that is pretty thorough. I do wish I could tell you how it is to camp in it, but it's been pretty darn cold ever since we got it in November, so we haven't had a chance to do that yet. Larry and I take day trips in it on the weekend, just to break it in, and sometimes I'll park it in the sun somewhere so I can watch on my nifty phone app as the solar panels feed into the house battery. 

Hey, everybody needs a hobby.

I'm hoping to take it south in February to visit my brother and am unsuccessfully trying to convince one of my grown children to accompany me. I mean, why would they not want to telework from sunny Florida for a few days, right? I'm trying not to take it personally that so far no one has taken me up on that offer. Trying.